Appalachia Appalachian Food Ghosts - Haints - Spooky Preserving/Canning

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Carving Pumpkins

My life in appalachia - Carving Pumpkins
Over the last few days, folks who celebrate Halloween have been carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns. The famous Jack-O-Lantern started out as a lowly turnip or beet. In the old days, folks in Ireland predominately used turnips and sometimes beets to make lanterns. Once Irish immigrants made it to the US they quickly realized the Pumpkin made a far better lantern than the turnip.

Carving pumpkins in appalachia
Chatter and Chitter are too old to care about carving pumpkins these days and when they were little I wouldn’t let them-mean uh? Oh they got to carve pumpkins at the folk school and other community type functions, but not at home. Sometimes I’m frugal beyond reason and maybe pumpkin carving is a prime example. I just could never bring myself to waste a perfectly good pumpkin. I’d let the girls decorate the outside with stickers or better yet just admire it as it sat among Granny’s crocheted jack-o-lanterns. Then as soon as Halloween was over I’d put it in the freezer.

How to freeze pumpkin
First I cut the pumpkin into manageable pieces.

How to roast pumpkin seeds
Next I use a spoon to scrape out the insides making sure to put all those sticky seeds to the side to roast later on.

Putting pumpkin in the freezer
I place the pumpkin pieces on a cookie sheet or roasting pan pour some water (about a half a cup or so) around them and bake at 350 till done. It takes a while, after about 45 minutes-I start checking to see if they are soft yet. The length of time it takes depends on the size of your pumpkin pieces and the heat of your oven. (some people coat their pumpkin pieces with oil before roasting)

Once the pumpkin has cooked-I scrape it from the shell into a bowl and mash it with a potato masher-you can also use a food processor if you’d like a smoother texture. Next I freeze it in the amounts I need for the pumpkin recipes I make most often.

To roast the seeds-wash the gunk off of them-dry on paper towels-place them on an oiled/buttered cookie sheet and stir to coat-roast at 350 for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Before roasting you can sprinkle them with salt and/or any other spice you like. Store in an airtight container.

Did you carve a pumpkin this year?



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  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I think this is the first time we HAVEN’T carved a pumpkin in a very long time. And the pumpkins in my garden this year were a flop so I don’t even have any for the freezer. **sniff**

  • Reply
    October 31, 2011 at 6:45 am

    That is one sweet picture!
    I always carved jack ‘o’ lanterns with my children when they were young, and always roasted the seeds. That was a sort of compromise between wasting and not carving.
    These days I go to my daughter’s house and watch her and my grandaugher carve one – and my daughter roasts the seeds too!
    I have often thought of making my own pumpkin for pies, but have never quite dared. Thanks for the great demo!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I love those pumpkin rolls of yours! In Cyprus we make pumpkin pie for the Greek Orthodox fasting period before Easter Day.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Were the girls ever really that little….and cute as buttons!
    I don’t see pumpkins…..I see those wonderful pumpkin rolls you make.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2011 at 10:14 am

    We are buying and carving ours today! No, I am not late as all….tomorrow would be late. I roast and freeze mine too, Tipper. So nice to have it in the freezer all year long!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2011 at 12:35 am

    No.. I must admit I didn’t, but I’ve cooked several sugar pumpkins for puree in recipes too!

  • Reply
    Laura Cunningham
    October 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I am so glad you wrote about pumpkins. We LOVE to carve pumpkins and roast the seeds (using spray olive oil and seasoned salt). This year, however, we have an abundance of pumpkins. We visited the pumpkin patch, but then the grandparents took the kids and bought more. I am definitely cooking them this year, which I’ve never done. I am all about using fresh produce and freezing or preserving it for later. Thanks for the tips! My kids will thank you when we are enjoying pumpkin bread, pancakes, muffins, pies, and cookies during the holiday season.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    October 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Hmmm Guess its time to make another pumpkin roll. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sam Ensley
    October 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    My grandson, 4 1/2 years old, carved three pumpkins. One for him and two smaller ones for his little sister and his cousin. We saved the seeds and roasted them much the way you did. They taste great.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    October 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Tipper: Just last week Jim carved our Jack-O-Latern for our front porch decorations. He laid all the seeds neatly on a pan. I ‘wondered’ what I could do with all those beautiful seeds. Unfortunately I tossed them out! Shame on me! Wish I had read this post before he carved the pumpkin!
    Happy Halloween
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I just love that Texas Ware bowl!!
    Those collectible things just can’t hide behind the pumpkin!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    B f
    October 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    a pumpkin roll sounds good along about now but what a mess i make
    we always ate the seed raw i guess you,d say , maybe we didnt have time to roast them or maybe too hungry???????
    anyway watch out for the goblins
    we dont have trick or treaters since moving to the country , children all grown up and gone and houses too far apart
    oh how we miss the past
    have a good one

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Nice picture of the girls and that
    was back when you could tell them
    things. I know, I have two also and got to enjoy watching them grow up.
    I have never carved pumpkins as
    Jack O Lanterns and when I want a
    Pumpkin Pie, its the frozen ones
    from the grocery store for me. I
    get one of those “hearty Mrs.
    Smith’s” to bake and usually get foundered just before Christmas.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

    No carving here, we did when the kids ere smaller though. Tried to use the pumpkin, it was awful. Must not have done it right and never tried again. Sorry, but my pumpkin pie comes out of a Libby’s can.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    October 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Yummmm, when will the pie be ready? I love roasted pumpkin seeds as well…but they just will not last long here…
    When we visited Carver’s Apple Barn and Restuarant in Cosby last week there were apples, apples, apples and other produce!
    There were turnips the size of small pumpkins but of course normal size turnips as well..Remembering the Irish used to carve turnip lanterns, the thought of trying to carve one was rambling around in my head. I was looking over these large turnips, thinking that no wonder they could carve them these are buge turnips!…About the time I decided to buy one, my husband came up behind me saying,…”What in the world do you want with that big old turnip?” Nothing was my response as I dropped it saying “Guess these are for decoration?” LOL If the Irish grew turnips the size of these in Cosby..then certainly a nice lantern could be made from them…with a built in “root” beard and a “leafed out” top-knot of hair!
    Nope, haven’t carved my pumpkin yet…but will and save the seeds to roast…
    Thanks for a great post Tipper, I wonder why my Mom didn’t roast her pumpkin…she always peeled and steam-boiled her pumpkin..I am roasting my nest one…I think the flavor would be better too…

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Sandra-your Mom was one smart lady : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    October 29, 2011 at 11:12 am

    See here for the ultimate in pumpkin carving:

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 10:30 am

    i have never carved one, but my mother did, she did not waste it though, she used the pumpkin she scooped out to make pies.

  • Reply
    October 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Good morning, Tipper! No pumpkin carving at my house either! I am right there with you about the wasting part. Sometimes I felt so guilty about my daughter never having carved a pumpkin, but, she sure did enjoy eating the homemade pies! I just know that you’re have a gorgeous fall at your place. I haven’t got to visit for awhile, so I’m about to do just that and see all the good things that I’ve missed on your blog. Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    October 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I love pumpkin. In fact I’m sitting here now eating a bowl of pumpkin oatmeal! I want to get to the farmer’s market and get one or two to put in the freezer. Love the picture of your girls!

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