It’s that time of year when everything is coming up orange and pumpkins take center stage on our stoops and in our windows. Pumpkin carving can be a fun family affair even though children should not be responsible for the actual carving process since it can be a dangerous proposition when tiny hands meet sharp knives and thick pumpkin flesh.
To make pumpkin carving more enjoyable for your kids, embark upon a pick-your- own adventure to let them choose a pumpkin for themselves. Save the seeds and pulp to transform them into fall favorites like toasted pumpkin seeds spices with smoked paprika and bright orange cookies bursting with the taste of autumn.
While you’re carving, share with your kids the history of pumpkin carving which began in ancient Ireland. It was the Irish who first brought this tradition to America from their green homeland steeped in mystical Celtic traditions. Since pumpkins did not exist in Ireland at the time, turnips were traditionally carved and placed on doorsteps with candles burning inside on All Hallow’s Eve as a way to ward off evil spirits and honor the dead.
Steps to carving a pumpkin
- Select your pumpkin. Keep in mind that taller pumpkins sometimes work better for freeform faces whereas round pumpkins are more suited for intricate stencil designs.
- Wipe the pumpkin clean with a damp cloth before carving it.
- Using a sharp paring knife, first cut off the top of the pumpkin to create a lid. Cut a small notch into one portion of the lid to make it easy to fit it and pumpkin back together again once the carving is complete.
- Use a large metal spoon to scoop out the inside of the pumpkin. Reserve the pulp and seeds separately for future recipes or simply discard in your compost bin.
- Draw your design on the pumpkin using a marker or ballpoint pen. This step is when you can involve children since it will make them feel more invested in the process.
- Carve the design using a sharp paring knife and discard the excess pieces or reserve them for recipes. Always cut away from your body in order to prevent injuries from slipping.
- Pop a tea light into the pumpkin, replace the lid and await your trick-or- treaters.
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Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound.
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