It’s Pumpkin Pickin’ Time

By Catharine Hernson
October 25, 2001

Amanda Howard

Halloween is coming fast, and the pumpkin population is beginning to feel it. For hundreds of years people have been making jack-o-lanterns, but no one made them with pumpkins until Europeans formed colonies in America.

When the British came to America they discovered that a pumpkin would make a perfect jack-o-lantern. They soon began carving the scary faces into the fruit to keep the evil spirits away from their homes in the new land.

Pumpkins have inspired many people to do incredible things with them. Washington Irving wrote about a man with a jack-o-lantern head in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and Cinderella’s coach was made from a pumpkin. There is even a nursery rhyme devoted entirely to a man obsessed with pumpkins in “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.”

Now carving pumpkins is a Halloween tradition in the U.S. There is a lit jack-o-lantern in front of nearly every house in any given neighborhood. Pumpkin Carving has become an art form in towns across the country as every family tries to outdo the next.

To carve better pumpkins try a few new tools to make life easier. Serrated knives come in a variety of sizes for big and little cuts. Heavy-duty versions of this knife have larger zigzag serrations for cutting through tough pumpkin skin.

A double-edge serrated knife is great for hard-to-get spots. Sawing in both directions comes in handy when trying to create the perfect evil eye. A strong, sharp mat knife is easily able to cut through even the toughest pumpkin rind. An artist’s craft knife can make delicate patterns or help you cut out little tough-to-reach spots.

A melon-baller can be used to scrape away the final layer of stringy innards with this super scooper. An apple corer can also be useful to make polka-dots or to make snake like stripes that don’t entirely penetrate the pumpkin rind. Use a cookie cutter and hammer to make shapes in the pumpkin without much trouble. Cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin for a candle, that leaves the entire top of the pumpkin available for creative carving. Instead of using a candle try using a small electric light or a string of lights to illuminate the jack-o-lantern. Pumpkin-carving tools can be found at most craft, art and hardware stores.

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Catharine Hernson

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