Let your imagination run wild this Halloween by skipping the supermarket pumpkin pile and surveying the rest of the produce section. There are plenty of options to ensure that your devilish decorations stand out. Get creative with a variety of fruit and veg, and dare to scare…
If you’re new to carving, then it’s important to know the basics. Take a look at our video guide to carving pumpkins, which will show you the skills you need. Next, choose your veggie victim.
Utensils for carving
The true pro has a variety of tools at their fingertips. Below are some suggested bits of kit, but have a rummage around your kitchen to see if you can find some of the following:
Skewer – for cutting small holes or marking out where to carve your design (see the video above)
Large spoon – to scoop out the seeds or flesh
Grapefruit spoon – for scooping harder-fleshed fruits and vegetables
Ice cream scoop – another scooping tool, ideal for a watermelon
Melon baller – also for innard-removal, and especially good for tomatoes
Small serrated, flexible knife – for cutting your design into hard fruit and veg
Small sharp knife – for carving small, softer specimens, like peppers and tomatoes
Peeler – to remove the top layer of skin from the pumpkin, squash or melon
Apple corer – for cutting larger, uniform holes and creating patterns
Cordless drill – for making small holes quickly; perfect for pretty lantern designs, particularly with hard-skinned pumpkins and squashes
Lino cutting tools – great for carving intricate designs into squash or melon skin. Use them to cut away small areas of the top layer of skin so that you can create mid-tones, textures and more complicated images. You can buy them from an art supply shop or online.
Alternative fruit and vegetables to carve
A pineapple is perfect for a spine-tingling party piece. Cut the top off a couple of centimetres below the leaves. Run a serrated knife around the inside wall, leaving about 2cm of flesh all the way around. Remove the centre – cutting a cross through the flesh should make this easier. Once hollow, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Carve your spooky face, pop in a tealight, replace the spiky top and display your little hair-raiser.
Squashes can be carved using the same technique as a pumpkin and the variety of sizes, shapes and colours are sure to thrill passing trick-or-treaters. See our guide to preparing squash, including photos of some of the types you can buy. Buy a selection for different eerie effects.
Courgettes and marrows
While most courgettes are too small to hollow out completely, the firm yet soft texture makes them easy to work with – try etching patterns into the skin and exposing the white insides. To display them, cut off one end to create a flat surface and stand them up.
There’s very little scooping and scraping necessary to hollow out peppers – simply remove the top and seeds. If you’re planning a spooky supper, give your peppers a creepy countenance, before stuffing with rice.
You can hollow out beef tomatoes from the base, carve, then fill with a delicious lemon & coriander couscous. If you’re after something more gory, try making gruesome eyeballs from cherry tomatoes and mini mozarella balls in our terrifying tagliatelle.
Use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the flesh of an orange, rinse and pat dry with a tissue. Cut out some frightening features, then fill with small sweets to make a brightly coloured ‘bowl’ to adorn your table.
You can take a knife to any type of melon but the blood-red flesh of the watermelon can’t be beaten. Hollow it out from the base, scoop out the inner flesh and get carving. Use the leftover fruit in a luscious watermelon lemonade.
Radishes are too small to hollow out but their bold red skin and bone-white innards make for a striking visual contrast. Using the tip of a small knife, skewer or lino cutting tool, scrape away a ghoulish grimace and garnish your Halloween buffet.
Get more Halloween inspiration…
Halloween recipe collection
How to make a Halloween feast
How to throw a kids’ Halloween party
How to throw a last-minute Halloween party
Halloween cocktail recipes
Pumpkin (or alternative veg) carving templates
Have you been getting freaky with fruit and veg? Leave a comment below…