I imagine that most of you are either in or about to be in the ‘safe zone’ for carving your pumpkins, without worry of them turning to goo before Halloween. Here in California we are testing our luck if we carve them any earlier than about three days before, especially these last few years. So as you prep to get your carving on, I thought I would share my latest project in the ongoing Bernzomatic series (to catch up click here) and show you what I think is hands down the easiest way to carve your pumpkins… ever. Easier than using a jig saw and drill, and far easier than any of the carving kits out there. Whether you are a pumpkin carving champ and you like the detailed work or you like it quick and simple – trust me when I say, you need to run, not walk to your nearest Home Depot and get yourself an ST500T and some Butane. Ready – Go! Then come back here and I will walk you through the rest along with a fab recipe you can let take shape while you carve!
Just like with any carving project, you begin by cutting a hole in the top and cleaning your pumpkin out. Your hole should be large enough to fit your candle when you flip your pumpkin upside down. Set your seeds aside as you clear out the insides and discard the remainder of the pulp. Once you have most of the pulp removed, you will want to thin out your rind in areas where it’s particularly thick and a melon baller if you have one is perfect for this step. If you don’t, a thin metal spoon will work pretty well too.
You are aiming for no more than 3/4 inch thickness all the way around and a melon baller will make this a super simple and fast process. It doesn’t have to look pretty, just want it to be a little less thick.
While you work on the remaining portion of your pumpkin, rinse and prep your seeds!
1/4 cup Malt Vinegar
Once you clean most of the pulp off of the seeds, place them in a bowl or a ziplock bag with 1/4 Cup of Malt Vinegar and a Teaspoon of Sea Salt. Give them a good shake or stir depending on what you just put them in and let them soak while you finish your pumpkin.
Serrated Knife or Kitchen Knife to Carve the top open.
Now you can ready your fave new tool, that you will never want to put down. You will be using your Micro Torch with the soldering tip in place. You should be outside for this portion of your project in a well ventilated area. For extra precaution, fill your torch in a different area than you plan to work with your torch. I chose to do this out on the lawn with my hose ready to roll in case of emergency. Fill your torch with Butane as directed by the instructions. Let the runoff stabilize for several minutes and move to your designated work area to ignite and carve!
Operating this tool is truly a cake walk. Wear your protective eye wear – always – because you never know. But this micro torch works a bit like using a hot carving knife only much easier because it works faster and with less effort. It is so simple and not scary even a little bit. The most difficult part of this entire operation is filling the tank and cleaning out your pumpkin. So, basically a snap and super fun! You will be wanting to carve all the things from here on out.
Once you adjust your exhaust direction and ignite your torch (according to the directions) with the easy on / off trigger, you can put it in the continuous lock position because, well why would you want to hold that trigger the whole time, duh.
Now give it just a second to heat the tip and away you go to draw your design. You will hold it and operate it just like a pencil and you will sketch out your design on the face of your pumpkin. You can choose the depth you carve for each portion of your design and this basically makes multi dimensional designs possible and that is super cool.
For creating a confetti pumpkin like I did here, I used various depths throughout so that the type of light each ‘piece’ of confetti would give off was just as organic and varying as confetti truly would be. Just use your tip to gently press a hole into your pumpkin. The longer you hold it there the larger it will get and the deeper you will go. This is what I did for those holes I wanted to go all the way through. Near the opening in my pumpkin (which will be the bottom later) I placed very sporadic and sparse holes. Not very many, and these were mainly either all the way through or about half way.
This tip will press into your pumpkin like a hot knife through butter so each hole takes maybe a second at most and this project goes extremely fast. As you work your way down the pumpkin you will begin placing more dots per section and continue to give them varying depths. Trust me, this will make the whole thing so much more amazing!
As you get far enough down the sides that you are ready to flip, you will probably also be at the point where you will really pick up the number of dots you create so it looks something like what you see above. They should all still have a bit of space, but there is no right or wrong here, just dots and crazy confetti.
Once you are finished, you can let your torch cool completely before putting it away and you can pop those seeds into the oven!
Oil your cookie sheet with olive oil and spread your seeds in a thin layer. You can give your seeds a few dashes of your malt vinegar and a bit more salt to absorbwhile they bake. Put them oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and flip or move them around a bit at about the 7 minute mark. They will turn a goldeny color when they are done and you can give one a taste test to see if it feels like it has crunch – that is when they are finished. If they look golden but still look wetish, let them sit outside the oven for a couple of minutes and they will crunch right up. They tend to sweat a bit so sometimes it requires this resting minute to firm up completely.