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Halloween: Carving Pumpkins and Roasting Seeds

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

Awesome pumpkin carving.

Awesome pumpkin carving.

Carve Awesome Pumpkins!

Autumn: a time when the weather starts to cool, the leaves change and fall, and children run into leaf piles with reckless abandon.

They also like to carve pumpkins, too.

Did you ever want to try to do a fancy pumpkin carving? You’ve seen those kits in the stores and wondered if they really work - you know you have.

I decided to buy one and see if I could carve like a pro. I mean I can chop wood like a pro, what’s it to me to wield a little saw as compared to a big one?

Well, I found out that there’s a lot to it. While you can create a great pumpkin carving, the directions on those kits leave a lot to be desired.

With a little time and patience, you can impress friends and family with your orange-globed carvings. But, it won’t happen overnight. I also found that it’s not a job for little fingers.

Yes, little ones shouldn’t be wielding knives, but you can give them some other fun things to do – like helping out with the design, separating the seeds from the pulp, drying out pumpkin seeds to be eaten later, or even using a blender (if they’re a little older) to chop up the pulp to make some pumpkin bread or pumpkin whoopie pies!

In this article, I’ll show you how to carve a pumpkin like a pro, roast pumpkin seeds and make pumpkin bread – all from one pumpkin!

Prep the Pumpkin

Before you even think about taking a knife to a pumpkin, let me be the first to tell you that no matter how clean you like things, the end result will have you running to the sink trying to get orange stringy pulp off your hands. Fun if you like that sort of thing, but I’m not big on getting my tools sticky.

Do yourself a favor: get your work area ready. Your life will be less of a stringy orange mess and your work move along a little easier.

What You’ll Need:

Newspaper

A solution of 1:1 distilled vinegar and water (optional) - you can just use water or a bit of soapy water

Medium-sized knife

Sharpie

Paper towels

Pumpkin carving kit

Large bowl

Pumpkin

The pulpy goodness of the pumpkin is maddeningly sticky, so you’ll want to lay a couple layers of newspaper where you’re working. Then, just when to oopy-goopy goodness is at its height, you can just roll up the newspaper and put it in the compost pile.

Take the vinegar/water solution and clean your pumpkin. This way, you can carve on a clean surface and take comfort in the fact that you won’t be putting any residual pesticides into your food as you scoop out the pulp and seeds.

Cleaning Out Your Pumpkin

Start with the bottom of the pumpkin and not the top. This is actually great advice – I found this out from the pumpkin kit directions. How many of us carve the top out where the stem is?

Whether you use an electric light or a candle, you don’t have to go in through the top of the pumpkin to light it. This is good for me, since I’m a little accident-prone. I have the burnt-off nerve endings from previous pumpkin escapades to prove it. No more burning my fingers!

With a knife – remember, not too large – carve out a circle in the bottom of the pumpkin. Remove the part you cut out. Take the scooper and start to scoop out the pulp and seeds into the bowl. Don’t worry about separating them now, unless you have an anxious little one willing to get their hands very orange and very gooey.

You’ll need to use a combination of the scooper and your hands to really clean the insides of the pumpkin.

Now, you’re ready to start carving…after one more little thing.

Select a design from the pumpkin carving kit. I chose the “Eek!” design from mine.

The instructions on the kit tell you to tape the design to the pumpkin and use the “roller” to lightly trace the design onto your pumpkin by slightly indenting the skin.

Um, that doesn’t work. At least it didn’t when I tried it. For twenty minutes I sat there, bending the plastic roller, trying to make it indent the pattern on to the pumpkin skin. I think I ran over my fingers with it a couple times, inflicting temporary dents on my hands.

I’m willing to admit that since this was my first time trying to use a pumpkin kit, I might be wrong in that assumption, but I found a way that worked better for me: Sharpies!

I freehanded my design onto the face of my pumpkin. I even added a bit of my own flair to it – Eek! It took me about 2 minutes and I was done.

Carving Your Pumpkin

Now, I was ready to carve.

I grabbed my tools: a larger (but still very tiny) saw, the smaller tiny-saw, and a “poker.” I’m sure there are technical words to better-describe these tools, but I admit I’m slightly amused by my colloquial name designations.

It takes a bit of time to get used to the tools, but now that I’m a “pro,” I can shed some light on the inner workings of this process.

When you start carving, you need to be extra careful to not bend the blades on the saws, at all. At best, you’ll bend the blade, but you’ll be able to bend it back a bit. At worst, you’ll break off the blade and now your carving experience will be much harder. I didn’t do that so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you what to do if your blade breaks – try not to do that!

When you start working on your design, you’ll find that the larger tiny-saw is great for straighter lines. The smaller tiny-saw is great for working on curvy lines. The poker is great for “preparing the way” for the two saws. What does that mean?

Well, when you start on a line, if it’s curvy and has lots of turns, poke it with the poker uniformly down the line to indent the skin of the pumpkin. Then, use the smaller tiny-saw to “draw a line.” Go over the line again with the smaller tiny-saw until you’re able to poke through. Work at a 90-degree angle to the pumpkin as much as you can. The blade can bend “up” if you try to drag it too much through the pumpkin material.

When you get to a long, straight part of the design, use the larger tiny-saw and “drag” the blade over the line, but not too deep. Do that a few times to get deeper and deeper into the pumpkin skin. You’ll find that you need to use a combination of poking with the saw and a bit of dragging.

Do this for the whole design.

Punch Out Your Design

Now, try to punch it out. Best of luck to you.

It won’t work.

Here’s something else the directions don’t tell you: it is virtually impossible to punch out your design, even if you have flawlessly carved it out. There are too many nooks and crannies.

So, you have to cut it out in sections.

By that, I mean you need to select a small area to be cut out, but where you have already "sawed" that section.

Take the large tiny-saw, and cut a line through the cut-out area. (See pictures.) Make sure all the lines in the section you’ll be cutting out are completely cut. It’s hard to punch out a section if pieces of pumpkin are still attached to it. Think of it like cutting out basic shapes from your pumpkin – you’re creating smaller cut-outs to make it easier to cut out the whole design.

Do this in small increments for your whole design. I used my free hand to help punch out the sections from the inside of the pumpkin. With a little persistence, you’ll be able to do it. Use the poker to help you poke those sections out, too.

Compost the punched-out sections. They’ll have Sharpie marks on them, so you won’t want to eat them. Unless, of course, they suddenly make edible Sharpie markers, but something tells me I’ve been handling all-things-pumpkin for a little too long.

Clean up the part of your design closest to the inside parts of the pumpkin. You’re sure to have stray pumpkin parts jutting out into an otherwise open area, so you’ll want to clean up stray pulp, chunks and the like.

When you’re finished, take a paper towel and either dip in water, or even better, rubbing alcohol and wipe down the carving to get the Sharpie marks to go away.

This part took me only 3.5 hours to complete. A wee bit longer than I anticipated.

Now For the Seeds

You’re not finished, yet! Why not have fun with those pumpkin seeds and pulp?

When you go to separate the pumpkin seeds, do it with your bare hands. Run them over and over through the pulp and put into a separate bowl.

Don’t worry if the seeds still have some pulp attached to them. Put them into a strainer and run water over them. Gently squeeze the seeds through your fingers as you run water over the seeds and the pulp will separate from the seeds.

Let the seeds drip-dry for a few moments while you spread out another paper towel. Pour the seeds onto the paper towel, about one seed thick. Let them dry completely. You might want to change out the paper towel once or twice during this process, because the seeds like to stick to the paper towel. Allow anything from several hours to 24 hours for them to dry.

(While you’re waiting, now’s a good time to go work with the pulp.)

When the seeds are dry, decide what taste you’re looking for. I decided on a “kettle cooked” taste. See the table for more ideas.

Kettle-tasting Pumpkin Seeds

2 tbsp butter, melted

2 tbsp brown sugar (or a little more)

1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 300° F – you want the heat fairly low. Drizzle the butter over the seeds. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter and add the cinnamon. Mix the seeds with your hand.

Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Let cool and enjoy!

Different Combinations for Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Whichever flavor your choose, drizzle and sprinkle just a little bit of each ingredient onto the seeds. Roast in oven about 15 minutes, at 300 degrees F. Let cool and enjoy!

Type of FlavorAdd:

Kettle Cooked

2 tbsp melted butter, some brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon

Spicy

a drizzle of olive oil, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, salt

Garlic Lovers

a drizzle of olive oil, garlic salt, whole garlic cloved to be roasted with the seeds

Sweet and sour

olive oil, sugar, lemon pepper

Kettle-tasting pumpkin seeds and slices of pumpkin bread.

Kettle-tasting pumpkin seeds and slices of pumpkin bread.

Use the Pulp to Make Pumpkin Bread

Before using the pulp in your recipe, you must run it through a food processor or blender to break up the fibers, or you will have some interesting sweater-like bread! Add a little water, if necessary, and only do a little at a time. But, you should get about 2 cups of pulp from your average medium-sized pumpkin.

Ingredients:

2 cups pumpkin puree (you can also use the canned version here)

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ cup heavy cream (optional)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. allspice

1 cup raisins

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a bread pan with non-stick spray.

Mix everything except the raisins in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat all the ingredients together, at medium speed, for two to three minutes. Fold in the raisins.

Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy!

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 10, 2013:

Torrilynn - thank you so much! Yes, it's great for Halloween and beyond. :D

torrilynn on February 10, 2013:

Thanks for the hub. Can be really useful during the fall season or around Halloween time. Voted up.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on November 01, 2012:

IOwn - thank you for coming by!

IOwn from My laptop in the UK on November 01, 2012:

Your Hub was most helpful, thank you very much, voted up and useful

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on October 11, 2012:

RS - turnips with spoons!? Oh my goodness! Hehe. I like carving pumpkins, too. It's a fun pasttime and I never knew that I could do a complicated carving if I just had a little patience. Hehe. For Halloween this year, I hope you have one BIG pumpkin to make fun designs on. :D

Redberry Sky on October 11, 2012:

Wow, CC, that first carved pumpkin photo is applesolutely amazing! I'm the biggest kid in the world when it comes to Hallowe'en (and Christmas, and Easter, and...) and I can't *wait* to try out these carving ideas. In the UK as a kid the shops didn't sell pumpkins, so my mum used to give me and my brother a turnip each and a couple of spoons and tell us to get busy. Spoons! With a turnip! Oh, how she laughed!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 18, 2012:

Terrye - you crack me up, chica. ;)

CMerritt - You've got me thinking...I haven't carved a pumpkin in...11 years! I didn't realize that until I decided to do this hub. LOL. It'll be fun to get back into it. :)

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on September 18, 2012:

Thanks! I have not carved a pumpkin since I was a kid......I think this year the family will take not of this hub and have at it.

UP and awesome!

Chris

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 18, 2012:

Youtube know it! :) hehehehe

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 18, 2012:

TT - lol..."youtube" is becoming a verb. HAHAHA.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 18, 2012:

You can youtube almost anything these days. ;)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 18, 2012:

Terrye - there's a youtube for that!?! LOLOLOL.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 18, 2012:

Check out 'moose eating pumpkin' on youtube. ;)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 18, 2012:

Terrye - HAHA. I can *totally* see you with a mess o' pumpkins, carvin' some jack o' lanterns. LOL. Moose like pumpkin? THAT I did not know. I bet it makes for some fun entertainment, though. I can just imagine some cartoon with a bunch of kids staring blankly at a moose eating their carved pumpkins. LOL. Thank you for the votes and shares. :D

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 18, 2012:

CC: I think the only thing you didn't include, unless I missed it, was the "how to shop for pumpkins." I think we also need a "Thorough" button as your hubs always are. And I'll throw in entertaining as well! :) It really does make me wanna run out and grab a mess of pumpkins and start hacking away at them. :)

In Alaska, we always waited until the last minute to carve and set out the pumpkins cuz the moose like to eat them. :) Nothing like having an awesome Halloween display only to have the beasts come in and eat it! *ggggrrrrr* Voted up and sharing. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 17, 2012:

Alocsin - hah, you crack me up. I get the feeling you're not into ooey-gooey things. LOLOL. No worries, I'm glad you stopped by and I would love to see a hub on carving those fake pumpkins. :D That actually really sounds fun!

Vellur - Thank you so much! I am still munching on the pumpkin bread I made from this hub. :)

Grandmapearl - great to see you! Pumpkin carving brings back SO many memories, does it not? LOL. Oh and the seeds and pulp and oh my! I appreciate your feedback and all the shares. Hubhugs!

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on September 17, 2012:

This is what I call a comprehensive guide to pumpkin carving! Brought back lots of memories, especially those pulpy, sticky, squishy seeds! That was my job. Fun, but messy. I remember sheets and sheets of waxed paper layered with pumpkin seeds to be dried in the warm oven and then salted to taste--Yummy! I had 2 brothers and 1 sister, so there was lots of pumpkin pie, bread and seeds. We would toss the pumpkins out into the field for the critters once they wilted and had served their Halloween and culinary purposes! Voted Up across the board, shared and pinned. Outstanding Job as always!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 16, 2012:

Great hub with useful tips on carving a pumpkin. The recipes are yummy, thanks for sharing and voted up.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on September 16, 2012:

Tis the season for Halloween crafts. I've only ever done pumpkin carving once and it was such a mess that I didn't do it again. They have these fake pumpkins now that look easier to carve. If ever I do it again, these are what I'd try next. Voting this Up and Useful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 16, 2012:

Nell - great to see you! Thank you so much for stopping by! Enjoy those pumpkin seeds! :) Hubhugs and cheers!

Julie - aww, I LOVE October. I'm ACTUALLY looking forward to fall and winter this year. :D

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on September 16, 2012:

Ohh..this makes me so excited for October. I'll have to try your pumpkin seed recipe. Looks delicious!

Nell Rose from England on September 16, 2012:

Hi, this is great, I used to love carving pumkins, but not done it for so many years now, what a good idea to separate the seeds to eat, loved this! voted up, cheers nell

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 16, 2012:

RHW - really!? Awesomesauce! If you use it every year, them I'm SURE you have some stellar pumpkin carvings. LOL. Aww...no Halloween party? Wah! Maybe you can convince her. Hehe. Thanks so much for all the shares and HUBLOVE! :)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on September 15, 2012:

Awesome! We do use the Pumpkin Masters carving kit every year. We love Halloween. My husband carves a very cool one every year and we usually have a party for my daughter's birthday. She doesn't want one this year! Wah! lol

I'm still carving pumpkins and putting all the decorations out!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Donnah75 - it's fun, if just for letting your pumpkin sit on your porch and enjoying the bread, seeds, or any number of recipes you can make with the pumpkin. :) I did find the little tools were really helpful. A bigger knife would have made it impossible to carve around the little nooks and crannies in the design. So, I'd say it was worth the $5 I paid for the kit, and I still have the tools to do more designs if I want to. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Rose - yum! Toasting pumpkin seeds...wait, just a sec...yeah, I just got more pumpkin seeds to munch on. Hehe. Thanks for stopping by! Hubhugs!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Aviannovice - right there with you. Simple might not ALWAYS be better, but in life, somehow I think it's more wholesome and awesome. :D Squash sounds great right about now, too. Hmmm....

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Teaches - Thank you for the link. :) Pumpkin bread, seeds, cookies...whoopie pies. I'm going to be an orange pumpkin inside and out by the time the season is over. Hehehe. Thank you ~ hubhugs!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Kat_thurston - The ooeyer and gooeyer the better, right? Hehe. These moments do create so many memories, don't they? Cheers!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Gail - thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed this. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 15, 2012:

Carol - Thank you so much for stopping by! :D I LOVE pumpkin seeds, too. Yummy! Thank you for the votes and shares. Hubhugs!

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on September 15, 2012:

I have to admit that it has been a few years since I wielded a knife and carved a pumpkin at Halloween. Maybe I will do it again this year. Great review of the kit. Did you find the tools helpful, or do you think kitchen knive would have done the job as well? Voted up and sharing.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 15, 2012:

What a great detailed resource! Love all of your photos. I am planning to write an article about toasting pumpkin seeds this fall and will make sure to include this article.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on September 15, 2012:

I recall drying pumpkin seeds and my mother making pumpkin and squash bread when I was a kid. Ah, the finer things in life are truly the simplest.

Dianna Mendez on September 15, 2012:

Love your ideas on the seeds and pumpkin bread. I used to do this when my son was little. We enjoyed roasting the seeds and using them in cookies and breads. They are so healthy too. You have made fall a little more enjoyable today! Voted up and linked to mine.

kat_thurston on September 15, 2012:

I love this time year, october is one of my favorite months. The kids love getting the ooy gooy stuff inside the pumkin. Then we get all the seeds and wash them then roasted so many memories roasting the seeds and eating them while were carving pumkins.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on September 15, 2012:

Interesting and fun hub! Voted up!

carol stanley from Arizona on September 15, 2012:

The pumpkin carving ideas are great..but I love the roasted pumpkin seeds...Sound delish. I am voting up and sharing this interesting and informative hub.

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