It wouldn’t be Halloween without twilight trails of grinning jack o’ lanterns, and our fans never fail to disappoint with their creativity when it comes to carving celebratory pumpkins. We love cooking up pumpkin all year round with the help of our range of vegan-friendly oils and seasonings. Our annual pumpkin carving competition is back for 2019, and we can’t wait to see your creations! It is really simple to enter – just post a picture of your best spook-tacular pumpkin to our Facebook page!
You must make sure you take a picture of your pumpkins, along with the hashtag #PumpkinCompetition written on a piece of paper, next to your masterpiece.
While pumpkin carving is definitely best established in America, it’s not where the tradition began. Jack O’ Lanterns originated in Ireland and were carved by ancient Celts and filled with embers to ward off evil spirits. However, pumpkins are not native to Ireland, so the original jack o’ lanterns were turnips instead. If you’re tempted to try and carve a turnip, it’s a lot harder work than a pumpkin – Irish immigrants arriving in America soon swapped over!
If you have one locally, visiting a pumpkin patch to choose your pumpkin can be a magical experience. You’ll find expectant gourds of all shapes and sizes, and children have a great time scouring the fields to find their perfect pumpkin. A good pumpkin should be firm with no soft spots and consistent in colour. If you’re planning to carve your pumpkin, look for a nice flat base to stand it on. You should also be choosing a fully mature pumpkin so that when it is picked it’ll keep its shape; a ripe pumpkin makes a hollow sound when tapped. Don’t pick your pumpkin up by the stem, as it’s rarely strong enough to hold its weight.
Don’t worry if you can’t get to a pumpkin patch to choose your pumpkin. Greengrocers and supermarkets will have piles of pumpkins available from early October. Don’t be tempted to carve your pumpkin too early though, as once they have been cut they can deteriorate quite quickly. Keep your carved pumpkin in a cool and dry place until you are ready to display it.
The best pumpkin for carving isn’t necessarily the best pumpkin for eating, as they tend to be grown for size and shape rather than flavour. But don’t let that discourage you, as there are numerous uses for your leftover pumpkin in November.
Before you get started, it’s time to assemble your materials. The minimum you’ll need is a spoon for scooping out the seeds and a knife for cutting out your pumpkin’s features. Pumpkin carving kits are available around Halloween and they’re easier to use and safer for children as well. Children should always be supervised by a responsible adult while carving! You can draw your design directly onto your pumpkin with a felt tip pen or use a stencil.
Begin by putting your pumpkin on a stable surface. Cut off the crown of your pumpkin and hollow out the inside by scooping out the flesh and seeds. Be careful not to accidentally cut through the walls of your pumpkin. Always cut away from yourself in case the knife slips.
You’ll need a light source to illuminate your pumpkin. Small candles and tea lights are traditional, but battery-powered lights are available and will stand up better to a windy October evening! Place your pumpkin in the window – without setting fire to the curtains – or outside to let trick or treaters know that you got treats for the little ghouls and goblins.
We’ll shortly be announcing the opening of our 2019 Carving Competition on Facebook. Every year, we’re blown away by what you manage to create with pumpkins as your canvas. The sky is the limit, and we’re excited to see what you come up with. Who knows, we might even carve a few of our own…
Once you’ve carved your best, scariest and most elaborate pumpkins, we’d like you to post them up on our Facebook page for judging. We don’t like cheaters, so to ensure that you’re posting up your original creations, we’d like you to include a piece of paper saying #PumpkinCompetition in your image.
Our judges will sift through the entries and choose their three favourites as winners. Each winner will be sent their very own The Homemade Curing Kit…Bacon so that they can create their own delicious artisan bacon at home. It’s a lot simpler than carving pumpkins, we promise!