Paint Pumpkins for Halloween, Then Make Fresh Pumpkin Pie!

Follow our guide to painting pumpkins instead of carving them into jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween this year, and you can enjoy them a second time with these recipes for fresh pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake pie, or pumpkin bread.

| September/October 1983

How many times have you carefully cut out the eyes and the crooked smile on your Halloween pumpkin, and then—after a few days have passed—watched the succulent squash shrink, shrivel, mold, and rot. "But that's just the price we have to pay," most folks reason. "After all, it's impossible to have a jack-o'-lantern and a pumpkin pie, too!"

Well, wait a minute, who said you have to cut into that pumpkin? Why not simply decorate its outside, and then—after the bewitching eve of All Saints' Day—turn the inside into a scrumptious dessert or some hearty loaves of bread? True, there won't be any winking candles or firelit expressions on your Halloween ghoul, but I'll bet your young goblins will think that small "sacrifice" is well rewarded when they bite into a delicious, moist, custardy piece of pie smothered in whipped cream!

How to Paint Pumpkins

It's my bet that youngsters and adults alike will find that decorating a pumpkin with pens and brushes—as opposed to carving it—is easier and allows the "artist" more leeway for creativity. You can even apply your talents to both sides, making a painted jack-o'-lantern with a "split personality."

I'd suggest that you begin by drawing a few practice faces on paper. Remember, though, that small, detailed features will be difficult to reproduce whether you're painting or carving. When you come up with a design that you like, go on to transfer it to your clean, dry squash with a pencil. After it's drawn the way you want, go over the pencil lines with a black felt-tipped marker.

Next, round up some small paintbrushes and choose your colors. I feel that a combination of bright hues in both light and dark shades generally looks most effective. You can use poster, powder, or acrylic paints, felt-tipped markers, or even interior house paint. (The pumpkins shown here were decorated with glossy latex enamels.) Water-based paints, of course, allow an easier cleanup, but do be sure that any coloring medium you choose is lead-free, to avoid possible contamination of the pumpkin meat.

Start painting those features for which you've planned to use white or the lightest color, then allow each area to dry until it's tacky before going on to the next darker shade. Continue in this manner until you finally get to black, which can be used to darken the original outlines and to add such details as eyes or hair. Then let your creation dry thoroughly (overnight will usually do) before adding any additional coats of paint.

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