How to make a Halloween pumpkin lantern
Carve a traditional pumpkin jack o'lantern - and try some alternative ideas. By Adrienne Wyper
If you want a traditional face, the minimum cutting you can get away with is two eyes and a mouth, but you can also add a nose and eyebrows. If a pumpkin is hard to come by, you can use turnips or swede.
Using a small, sharp knife, cut the top off the pumpkin. Scrape some off the flesh off the inside of the 'lid'. Now start to scoop out the flesh and seeds. Cut vertically downwards around the edge of the pumpkin, leaving about 1cm thickness in the wall of the pumpkin. Cut away chunks and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Keep going until almost all of the pumpkin has been hollowed out, making sure that the base inside is fairly level, so the tealight will be stable. You can use the flesh to add to a soup or stew.
Find the most presentable side of the pumpkin. If you wish, before you start cutting, draw on the shapes for the mouth and eyes, plus nose and eyebrows if you're adding these. It's easiest to keep the shapes fairly simple. Push the knife through the wall of the pumpkin along the line of the design, and cut out the desired shape.
Place a tealight inside the pumpkin lantern and light. Replace the lid and turn off the lights to see how the lantern looks. To ensure an adequate oxygen supply to the flame, you might need to replace the lid off-centre.
Alternative pumpkin lantern designs
Although a menacing face is traditional, other designs also look very striking when lit from within
Hollow out the pumpkin as above. Cut round holes through the wall of the pumpkin to give an all-over polka-dot pattern. Alternatively, cut out vertical slices.
Instead of cutting holes into the wall of the pumpkin, you can create patterns by scoring a design into the outside. Hollow out the pumpkin as above, then use a vegetable peeler to scrape away about half of the thickness of the pumpkin in your chosen design. The light from inside will shine through, giving a golden glow to your design.
This technique means you can have a more intricate design, so you could use it to highlight your door number to arriving guests (above), or to carve someone's name, or a favourite phrase.