Halloween usually calls for pumpkin carving, but why not carve other fruits and vegetables as well, or try some new techniques with pumpkins? The culinary arts include artisans who prepare foods to eat, of course, but also those who make food attractive. Carving fruits and vegetables for Halloween allows you to be creative and outrageous. Use your imagination — the final product does not have to be edible.
Many common vegetables carve well with a knife or handheld rotary power tool. You can carve almost all types of squash, including pumpkin, zucchini, butternut and cucumbers. Fruits that carve well include watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. Small vegetables include radishes, bell peppers, carrots and beets. Potatoes are good for making round bodies or wrinkled faces. Apples, pineapples, oranges, lemons and limes carve into Halloween characters and animals.
Clean a fruit or vegetable and cut completely through the exterior wall for the typical Halloween pumpkin look. This works for cantaloupe, watermelon and bell peppers. Make a trick-or-treat decorative bucket with a hollowed-out watermelon, leaving a band for the handle and a right-angle wedge cut vertically from each side. Place plastic wrap on the inside and fill with candy or decorations. Make a turtle from a cantaloupe, with just half the cleaned shell. Carve the other half of the shell into feet and head, and place them under the shell. Use a whole cantaloupe for a scarecrow face. If it is too heavy for your project, clean it by slicing vertically at about the one-third point (not halfway as you would do for eating). Place it back together with toothpicks. Use the “seam” for the hairline and the smaller piece for the face.
Make a face or a typical Halloween decoration and create a pattern the size and shape of your vegetable or fruit. Transfer the design to the surface you want to decorate. Using a rotary tool with a pumpkin carving attachment, cut a thin outline of the design just through the surface of the fruit or vegetable. Alternatively, cut the design outline in a wedge shape with a filet knife. Make a jack-o-lantern with a cleaned pumpkin and just the outline cutting, not cutting all the way through. Place a candle in the pumpkin and see it glow through the outline cuts. A small eggplant or a bell pepper makes a great witch face, and a few days of shriveling or drying of the face will make it even freakier. For eyes, use whole cloves for small animals, and use olives for larger animals or people. A butternut squash is white and therefore great for ghosts or moons on Halloween night. Give a zucchini some clove eyes and see what it looks like to you.
Use any citric acid product, such as lemon juice, to coat the cut areas of fruit to keep them from turning brown. This works particularly well for apples and potatoes. When you carve pieces from the fruits and vegetables, replace them immediately to keep the fruit “whole” until your project is completed. This keeps the shape, prevents handling of the softer areas and prevents breakage. Visualize the fruit or vegetable in another color. If you see a lemon as a shape, it can be the body of a mole. A radish can be a mouse. A pineapple might be an armadillo. Use a vegetable peeler to make hair, fingernails or accents for your characters. The vegetable peeler can make stripes or spirals on your carved Halloween animals and people.