Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pumpkin Carving Tips and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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I have a love hate relationship with carving pumpkins.  Because I love the idea of it and I love pumpkin seeds.  And I actually love the process of getting the pumpkin ready for carving.  But I had the actual carving of the design part because I suck at that.  Doesn't stop me from trying each year though, and we'll definitely be doing it this weekend so be sure to check my Instagram for those photos.  Today though, I'm sharing some tips I've learned over the years to help make the process easier.  Scroll to the bottom for a recipe on how to roast pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin Carving Tips

  • Pick the right pumpkin - a large slightly flatter side will make it worlds easier on you.  Also make sure it has a green stem, which means it's fresh.
  • They're generally safe to carve two or three days away from when you need it, maybe a tad longer, but don't carve too early.
  • Cut the hole for the lid at an angle, not straight down.  Tilt your knife at 45 degree angle from the pumpkin and slice in that way, all the way around.  If you go straight down, the lid will fall in.  This way, there's more 'meat' at that top, outer edge to keep it on there.  I feel like boning and paring knives work just fine for this, I don't believe you need those specialty tools.  If it works for your design, try cutting the hole in the back and not the top, which will keep the pumpkin fresher longer.
  • Scoop out all the pulp and then start shaving away at the walls of the pumpkin if it's particularly thick.  Just over an inch in wall thickness will make it easiest to carve into.  The pumpkin spoons are cool for this, and cheap, but ice cream scoops work too.  You want it to feel dry - any wet bits left on there will get moldy, and mold will spread.
  • Draw your design on first in pen.
  • Use a serrated knife for carving, it goes much quicker.
  • You can keep the pumpkin fresh using petroleum jelly on any cut edges.  If it still shrivels, soak it in cold water for awhile.
  • Light it with battery operated tea lights.  Actual flames in there aren't safe so just don't bother.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

1. Clean off the seeds you pull out during carving.  You won't get all the strings off but as long as most if it is removed, you'll be good.
2. Toss the seeds with oil or melted butter (we use olive oil), just to coat them. Add your seasonings of choice, again just enough to coat them.  I do multiple batches - I prefer a slightly spicy version with some salt and cajun seasoning, but John likes the sweet kind with cinnamon and sugar.  Either way!  Or a myriad of others like plain salt, garlic, cayenne pepper, the options go on and on.
3. Spread the seeds in an even single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are a nice golden brown color.  I usually cook mine longer, because I like them a little more burned and crispy.
5. Let cool and enjoy!  They keep well in an airtight container if you don't end up eating them all right away.

Do you carve pumpkins and roast the seeds over in your house?  What's your favorite seasoning mix for them?

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