[First posted on 29.10.08 on my old possiblypossible.blogspot.com site and featured in the b3ta newsletter on 31.10.08, updated 20.10.09]
Every year millions of people across the world gather together at Halloween to carve pumpkins. As I saw the pumpkins piled up in sainsburys, suspiciously close to the watermelons an idea came to me.
What other vegetables work?…
Surely there was no reason it had to be a pumpkin, I thought I’d gather together the following….
- A Pumpkin (as a control)
- A Watermelon
- A Pepper
- An Apple
- A Butternut Squash
- A Gem Squash
- An Aubergine
- A Pineapple
- A Swede
- A Mango
With everything set up I decided to start upon the pumpkin for a bit of practice.
The completed pumpkin, simple, elegant, a modern classic…
The pumpkin went perfectly well. I had proved to myself that i was at least capable of that.
Now it was time to start on the interesting stuff, as the most closely related vegetable I’d bought I thought the butternut squash would be fairly simple.
Not one of natures most elegant creations.
So far so good
This stage was particularly hard, apparently butternut squash is mostly solid till you get to the bulbous seedy bit at the bottom, forcing me to adapt a complex knifey spooney technique to get the job done. Once I had gotten most of the top portion emptied I realised my error at starting at the narrow end, getting the flesh out of the bottom was a serious task.
The outside was also rather brittle leading to a nasty crack down by the mouth.
I’d never seen or eaten a gem squash before but I assumed that it would be like a sort of miniature pumpkin.
The skin was like leather, but once in was as I expected.
Raawr I am gem squash!
With the possibilities of the squash family pretty thoroughly explored it was time to move onto other types of veg.
I really wasnt sure about this one, with no hard skin it was liable to fall apart.
Carving the inside out was fairly easy, until the very bottom when the shape gave me the same problems as with the butternut squash.
There wasnt much room inside for the candle, so we had to wedge it in on its side, the skin however was perfect for carving.
Fangtastic…sorry…It was actually pretty tricky, I had to leave a fair bit of flesh in there in order to keep the sides rigid leaving barely any room for the candle
This was probably the easiest of them all, it’s practically hollow anyway and it’s so soft it’s easy to cut.
The group, so far.
According to wikipedia “Throughout Ireland and Britain, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede “
This is of course, rubbish. It is utterly utterly impossible to carve a swede, turnips are actually too small and mangelwurzel….well I have no idea what a mangelwurzel is…
I got about this far before giving up. Swedes are just too bloody tough, I might as well have been trying to carve a solid lump of wood
I do however happen to have one exceedingly determined flatmate who spent what must have been at least an hour attacking that accursed root vegetable.
Eventually the eyes and mouth began to emerge but it was still exceedingly tough going.
The big seed in the middle was a real challenge to get out and I slightly mangled it a bit in the process.
I decided to christen it the Mang-O-Lantern.
Compared with some of the other fruits the pineapple was a breeze to hollow out despite some harder bits in the centre.
The nature of the skin made it difficult to cut, which explains the rudimentary carvings on this one. Despite that though this was one of my favourite’s as it had a cool voodoo vibe to it.
This was the one I was looking forward to the most. The one with the most promise, the one which had inspired the project.
The top came off without a hitch
It was probably easist of all to disembowel, although it did take a while to get all the juice out.
It was also really easy to carve stuff in. if anything easier than the pumpkin.
A happy side effect
We also discovered a great side effect of scooping out all those fruits.
Tropical fruit cocktails! Made with the melon, mango and pineapple that we didnt use…plus a fair bit of malibu.
Now suitably liquored up it was time to play with fire.
The finished results
The Butternut was impossibly hard to light.
The Pumpkin, one thing the classic had over the others was a far more room for candles.
The main problem with the apple is that there wasn’t enough air flow to keep the candle alight so we had to cut vents in the lid
We had to cut a hole in the top of the gem squash as well, not because of air flow but because it kept threatening to catch fire
The pepper glowed really bright red, which was thoroughly awesome.
After a while the wax from the aubergines candle began to drip out like the slavering drool of a demonic vegetable.
The smaller ones didn’t work too well due to the way that there wasn’t enough room for the candles, there wasn’t good enough air flow and they kept catching fire. The fleshy ones weren’t too great either and I wouldn’t recommend the ones which didn’t stand up on their own.
also..the smell of burning rotting mixed vegetables isnt all that pleasant
Still if theres one thing I shall take from this it is….forget pumpkins next time im going for a melon, its better in every way, and tastes better too.
Cheers to Nobby and Nat, and the rest of my flatmates for giving a hand/not thinking im mental.