Back in Texas a friend from church carved out a jack-o-lantern for the Halloween season last year. When Halloween was over and her jack-o-lantern was getting dilapidated-looking, she carried it out to her dumpster for the garbage man to pick up the next trash day.
Bright and early the next morning she left the house to take her daughters to school and there on the front porch her jack-o-lantern was back, looking even more dilapidated.
Back to the dumpster it went. But, next morning, it reappeared on the porch again. By now it was smelling funky and starting to cave in and have a disfigured face. Another couple of trips to the dumpster before it stopped reappearing like something out of a horror movie, and that was only because she wrapped the thing in paper and stuffed it in a box before taking it out to the dumpster. She never did find out why or how it kept reappearing on her porch, but was relieved the jack-o-lantern had finally decided to die already. It was really starting to freak her out.
In Texas, it usually doesn’t take long for pumpkins to spoil, since temperatures stay warm until December or so. I imagine that jack-o-lantern was really starting to wreak.
It has been a very long time since I have carved a jack-o-lantern, and spoiling is one of several reasons why I have chosen not to. Another reason is because I think the innards of pumpkins are slimy and nasty, and I don’t want to mess with them. And, I just think they’re a little, well, evil-looking. Kind of like a Chucky doll or something.
So, this year I attended Pumpkin Daze in our town, and ended up buying four pumpkins for decorating. I wasn’t planning on carving them or anything, and figured I would suck it up and go to the trouble of saving the pumpkin seeds after Halloween was over.
Well, Halloween came and went, and those pumpkins still remained outside, and I decided I would let them stay outside to decorate for Fall (in other wards, put off seeding them) until right before Thanksgiving, when I started the Christmas decorating (classic avoidance and denial).
Thanksgiving came and went, and Christmas decorations went up. The pumpkins moved to the garage, where I thought I would de-seed them when I got around to it. I think I was secretly hoping they would rot so I would have an excuse not to stick my hand down in the gross things, but miracles do happen, and the pumpkins stayed nice and firm.
I finally brought them into the house, determined that I was going to get the nasty deed over with. The pumpkins did, after all, seem to want to gift me with their produce. I lined them up by the back door, where they sat for another two or three weeks, waiting like sentinels for me to carve them up.
Finally, the pumpkins I had acquired around mid-October were being gutted around four days before Christmas. I told my daughter beforehand that I was planning on gleaning the lovely seeds from my Fall pumpkins, and she said, “You’re going to waste all those pumpkins just for the seeds?!”
“Well, you’re wasting most of the pumpkin,” said the girl I had raised preaching the virtues of never wasting.
So, dang, here I was with Christmas music playing all around me, carving up the pumpkins, de-seeding, baking the pumpkins, cutting the pulp into chunks, roasting the seeds and getting all slimy and cranky. A job people on the internet said would take only a few hours ended up taking me more like eight hours over the course of two days. It’s not easy going from making Christmas candy to wrapping presents to doing the detestable, nasty, icky job of sliming around with pumpkin guts.
But it’s done, and thankfully, the pumpkin seeds turned out marvelous! I used the method I reblogged in October from The Modern Home Kitchen and used the sweet version.
So, advice for future pumpkin carvers:
- Do your pumpkins long before Christmas.
- Cut your pumpkins in half going across — they’re so much easier to gut that way.
- Have a lot of paper towels close by to wipe your hands frequently.
- Put the pumpkin halves skin side up when roasting — do not cut them in chunks to roast.
- Line all pans with foil. Always.
- Don’t let someone else guilt you into doing more than you want to do.
Although it seems rather out-of-place after everything I’ve just talked about, I want to wish you a happy, pumpkin-free Christmas!
- The Pumpkin – The Ultimate Functional Food (belmarrahealth.com)
- How to save your pumpkin seeds (and eat them, too)! (myfloweryprose.wordpress.com)