I was walking through the produce section at the grocery store the other day and trying to think of something fun to make a jack-o'-lantern from. Pumpkins are the obvious choice, but I wanted something different. Apples, oranges, peppers, and pineapples have already been done. Then, I glanced at the grapes and remembered the green grapes sitting in my fridge at home. I tried it out and was really happy with how they turned out.
Learn how to make your own creepy face jack-o'-lantern grapes. You don't carve them out, just carve faces, so they are fairly easy to do considering the size. They are great as a frozen snack or as decorative ice cubes for drinks!
Step 1: Supplies
Start by getting everything you need! (as always)
- Grapes - I like the way green grapes look, but you can use whatever you want.
- Red and Green liquid food coloring
- Optional: Xantham gum - this worked for me once but didn't work well when I did this Instructable, so you can choose to use it or don't.
- Paper towels - very important
- Sharp, pointy knife - don't cut yourself - something you can carve out a face on a grape with
- Plastic Cup
- Container to store grapes in the freezer - I find shallow and wide is good as you don't want to stack the grapes on top of each other
Do not freeze grapes before carving their faces. I tested this today and it was very difficult to cut safely and accurately into a frozen grape. You can do it if you want to, but I don't recommend it.
Step 2: Prepare Your Dyed Water
Put about 1/4c of water in a plastic cup. You can really use as much as you want, but you just need to be able to dunk a grape (I tipped the cup when I dunked my grapes so you don't even need a whole lot).
Add about 4 drops each of red and green food coloring. Add more as you need it but all you are going for is a dark relatively brown color. (The internet suggests that complementary colors mixed together will make brown and red and green are the easiest ones to use.)
This is where you can choose to put in no more than 1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum. If you do use it, you will have to mix it well and let it sit for a bit (like 10 minutes) to let the xantham gum dissolve in the water. Again, when I tried this before it worked, but when I used it today, it left air bubbles in my grape faces so I just went with water and food coloring. Which is easier anyway.
The xantham gum thickens the dyed water and helps make it stay in the holes you carve in the faces. For some reason, this caused air bubbles today and I didn't like that, but you will probably get better results if you use the xantham gum AND you can avoid the air bubbles.
Step 3: Cut and Dye Faces
Time to cut your faces! Before you start, I suggest getting your computer and search for "Jack o lantern faces". You can just carve all the grape faces the same if you want, but having photo references helps if you want some variety. I mostly did just a few different faces. Straight lines are the easiest.
To get started, set up a workspace with your grapes (cleaned and dried), paper towels, toothpicks, cup of dyed water, and a container you are going to put your grapes in the freezer in (I put a piece of paper towel in this to absorb any water that dripped off of them so they don't stick to the container and it worked out well).
Time to carve!
I'm no pro at this by any means, but my suggestions are:
- Make sure you are cutting out something, if you just poke or just slice, the dye isn't going to sit in the cracks well.
- Make cuts going in diagonally to make it easier to cut out pieces (for example, when making a triangle, you will cut down and in so you'll cut out a pyramid shape).
- Don't cut too big, it will be too much space for the dye to cover.
- Don't cut too small, there won't be enough room for the dye to seep in.
When you have the face cut out, stick a toothpick in the hole where it is attached to the stem.
Dip the grape in your dyed water and kind of scoop the water with the face of the grape. Your goal is to get water to stay in the shapes you cut out of the grape.
Once you have scooped dyed water into the face, carefully dry the excess water off the back and sides of the grape. DO NOT wipe the face. You will just end up absorbing any dyed water that went into the grape holes. Your only goal with drying it off a bit is to simply make them neater and remove excess water that will just freeze in the freezer.
Carefully put your scary face grape face up in your container. Set it against the side of the container and put all the grapes against each other. They will very slightly freeze together, but they come apart very easily and it is better that your face survive the freezing process.
If some of the dye comes out of the face holes when you put it in the container, take a chopstick (if you have it) and dip it into the dyed water. Try to get a drop of water to stay on the chopstick and carefully and quickly bring it over and drip that water into the eyes, nose, or mouth of your grape. Since it is already sitting in the container, you don't have to worry about accidentally wiping it out and it just gives some extra definition to the face. You can do this to all the grapes once you have them in the container.
Step 4: Toothpick Face
This is just an added idea for those that want to let their kids carve faces, but don't want to give their kids big, scary, sharp knives.
You can use a toothpick to poke and saw faces into your grapes. Like I mentioned in the last step, just poking doesn't work as well for dying the face, but it is still an option.
If you want to "carve" using a toothpick (like I did for the big round eyes above), just carefully poke into the grape and "saw" the best you can the shape you want. It will be messier and a cruder cut, but it does work.
Once all of your grapes are carved, dyed, (touched up with drops from a chopstick), and put snugly in your container, put them in the freezer to freeze.
You want to leave them in until they are solid. It will take, I would say, at least 3 hours depending on your freezer. So, make these ahead of time of when you need them.
Step 5: Frozen
Here is a look at my frozen grapes. Once they sit out for a little while, they will get frosty (as you can see in the first image). The last two images show them right out of the freezer.
Step 6: Serve!
Time to enjoy these grapes! Since you did freeze them, don't take them out until you need them.
You can use them however you want, but I suggest either eating them as they are frozen (my husband loves frozen grapes), or using them to cool down drinks. I was actually surprised to see that the dye did not seem to leave the face after sitting in a liquid for a while, so this works out well. It won't take very long for them to get soft in your drink, but it is only noticeable when you touch them.
When you finish your drink, go ahead and eat the grapes! Since you didn't use anything on them that is toxic, they are totally fine to eat.
Also, you can put a whole bunch of them in a punch bowl, or stick a few in people's drink glasses. I think skinnier glasses will allow you to show them off the best.
Also, again, a lighter drink like sparkling grape juice or Sprite will allow you to see the grape faces better.
Also, again again, you can mix regular frozen grapes in with your carved face grapes just so you don't have to sit carving faces for hours. For another fun creepy addition, you can peel some extra grapes and freeze those to mix in.