Believe it or not, that is a common sight at Halloween time in Ireland and Scotland. I’m glad that tradition was applied to pumpkins here in North America since they are considerably larger and therefore easier to turn into jack-o-lanterns. In fact the term “jack-o-lantern” was first associated with pumpkins in 1866.
What do you do with the gooey insides of pumpkins when you make your jack-o-lanterns?
Many people separate the seeds from the “goo” and bake them to make a delicious and nutritious treat. They are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper, and zinc. When my kids were younger we roasted our seeds each year, after giving them a very light coat of oil and a generous sprinkling of salt. I looked forward to making that crunchy treat, and rued our decision one year to paint our pumpkins instead of carving them. We’d planned to “harvest” their seeds on All Saints Day, the day after Halloween. My 7-year old daughter sobbed when we passed our smashed pumpkins on the way to the bus stop that morning. The following year we hedged our risk by leaving our paintbrushes in the drawer and made carving jack-o-lanterns our permanent tradition.
My grandmother used to make one. It was fabulous. She used a “pie pumpkin.” They are available in most grocery stores, although some stores call them “sugar pumpkins.” My Nana Walsh baked her halved and seeded pumpkins in the oven. Some people steam theirs. Whichever method used, the object is to cook the inner flesh of the vegetable until it is soft so you can puree it. There’s nothing like the flavor of pies made from fresh-baked pumpkin. If you’ve got the time and the gumption, go for making your pie completely from scratch!