It all starts at the farm. We get our pumpkins at the Beaulieu’s Farm stand on Alden Road in Fairhaven, MA. These are excellent pumpkins and happen to be grown by my mom’s cousin. He also sells all-natural field-raised beef if anyone is looking for some healthy burgers. Matt has a good eye for a pumpkin that’s just right for carving and there are plenty of good ones still left to choose from.
After much deliberation, Matt decided on two pumpkin patterns from the Zombie Pumpkins web site: Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett from Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim!! Spooky!! For a very reasonable price, the patterns can be downloaded and printed. Worth it for the awesome pumpkin effects. TIP: Most of these patterns are about the size of a piece of computer paper, so you need to choose a pumpkin with a large enough surface for the pattern to work. A piece of paper should fit on the carving area without being too close to the top and bottom of the pumpkin.
First, we must clean out the pumpkin guts, an important job which I help with. Matt cuts off the top and scoops out the pulp. I clean off the step top then rinse and save all the seeds which I’ll roast for snacks--more on that later. My job is now done.
Matt takes over from here. First, make sure the outside of the pumpkin is clean and dry. The pattern is taped to the best side of the pumpkin. Matt likes a flatter side since the pattern lays better on that.
Next, using an awl (which you can get at the hardware store if you don’t have really old tools in your basement like we do), punch holes through the paper into the pumpkin skin every 1/4 inch or so on the lines of the pattern. Stay on the lines as much as possible!
Now, using your favorite carving tools, begin sawing out the pieces in a connect-the-dots fashion. Matt uses a pretty standard pumpkin carving tool set you can get at most stores and sometimes he uses a large Ex-acto knife for really intricate work. Try to get the edges of the cuts as smooth as possible.
FYI- The inside of the pumpkin will probably get wet and continue to have pumpkin juice gather in the bottom, so dump it occasionally.
When the pumpkins are finished, they look great, but we have to wait until dark for the full effect! We use 2 or 3 basic white tea lights for our pumpkins, nothing fancy.
And now....presenting our SPOOKY JACK-O-LANTERNS of 2010!!!
On a side note, I love pumpkin seeds! Here’s what I did while Matt was carving: I found a great pumpkin seed recipe on line. I made one batch with just salt, the other I sprinkled with cinnamon and Southwestern-style seasoning. Yum! It's easy and makes a great snack for while you’re admiring your pumpkins. Happy Halloween, everyone!