What would Halloween be without carved pumpkins! The American tradition is becoming more and more popular all over the world. Find out in this blog post why we carve pumpkins on Halloween and how you can easily carve your own Halloween pumpkin this season!
Halloween is known to be an American custom. However, it was actually Irish emigrants who brought Halloween and the tradition of carved pumpkins to America.
In the English language, carved pumpkins are called "Jack-O'-Lanterns". This name and the custom of pumpkin carving go back to an old Irish legend:
It was the night before All Saint’s Day. Jack Oldfield, a thief and drunkard, sat in a tavern when suddenly the devil appeared to take Jack down to hell. Yet Jack managed to outwit the devil and made him promise to never claim his soul.
The years passed and Jack died an old man. Since he had committed many sins in his life, he was not allowed entrance into heaven. Neither did the devil let him into hell, because he had given Jack his word many years ago.
Still, the devil took a little pity on Jack. He gave Jack a glowing coal that would never go out. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip. Ever since, the hapless Jack O'Lantern has wandered through eternal darkness with his turnip lantern.
From this old legend developed over time the custom of carving pumpkins on Halloween to keep the devil and other evil spirits away.
Which pumpkin to choose for carving depends on what you want to do with the leftovers. If you want to use the scraped flesh to make soup or puree, you'll need to buy an edible pumpkin.
Large pumpkin varieties like the Cinderella pumpkin are easier to work with, but they aren't very good to eat. Smaller edible pumpkins, such as the Hokkaido, are much tastier, but more difficult to carve.
Whichever variety of pumpkin you decide on, choose a pumpkin that is as smooth as possible; pronounced ribs make carving much more difficult. It is also important that the pumpkin has no soft spots or injuries. You can tell a ripe pumpkin because its shell is hard and it sounds hollow when tapped.
These three edible pumpkins are especially good for carving:
In many stores you can buy specific "Halloween pumpkins" for Halloween. As their name suggests, they are especially well suited for carving. This popular pumpkin variety is actually called "Ghost Rider" and is available in orange or green.
Hokkaido, also known as Red Kuri squash, can be bought in almost every supermarket. It is a popular edible pumpkin, but is also suitable for carving spooky Halloween faces.
This giant pumpkin weighs on average between 8 and 15 kilograms. Its red flesh lasts a long time and is particularly suitable for soups, purees and casseroles.
Step 1: Good preparation is essential
Wash the pumpkin thoroughly with soap before carving and dry well with a clean towel. This will remove bacteria on the skin that would otherwise get into the pumpkin during carving. Also, disinfect all tools with pure alcohol from the pharmacy before carving.
Step 2: Remove the lid
To create the top "lid" of the pumpkin, use a large, sharp knife to cut in a circle around the stem. Hold the knife away from you at a slight angle, rather than vertically. This will create a ledge that will keep the lid from falling into the pumpkin. Leave the pumpkin stem intact, so you can easily lift up the lid when changing candles.
Step 3: Carve out the pumpkin
Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, first remove the pumpkin seeds and loose pulp from the cavity. Then scrape out the flesh until the walls are about 2 cm thick.
Scrape the walls of your pumpkin as smoothly as possible. Torn corners or fringes will later promote the growth of mold or bacteria. Be careful not to accidentally scrape a hole into the pumpkin!
Finally, rinse the inside of the pumpkin with water and pat dry with a towel.
Step 4: Draw the face
Use a thin, water-soluble pen to draw a face or pattern of your choice onto the pumpkin. You can do this freehand, or use a stencil. The more intricate the pattern, the more difficult it is to carve.
Tip: Poke tiny holes into the pumpkin with a needle along the drawn lines. This will make it easier to precisely cut out of the motive afterwards.
Step 5: Cut out the pattern
Use a kitchen knife, a cutter or a special pumpkin saw to cut along the drawn lines.
Now that you've put a lot of effort into carving, you'll want to enjoy your pumpkin for as long as possible. There are some tips and tricks on how to protect your pumpkin from molding and drying out:
Under optimal conditions, the carved pumpkin will last for up to two weeks.
After carving your pumpkin, it’s time to head to the kitchen! Turn your pumpkin flesh and seeds into delicious soups, casseroles, risottos or cakes. If you're still looking for inspiration, you'll find great seasonal recipes in our app. Take a look right now!