Goodness! Is it October already? Well roll up your sleeves because it’s pumpkin-carving time! Pumpkin carving and sculpting are long held traditions that have been around ever since Irish immigrants brought over the holiday quirk to America in the 1800s. It gives people reason to head out to the pumpkin patches in the crisp autumn air and find the perfect pumpkin to brighten their doorsteps. So here’s the healtheo360 low-down on how to carve the perfect pumpkin.
Pumpkin Carving Tips #1: Choosing the Right Pumpkin
Keep your eyes peeled because this is the first and most important part of pumpkin carving. There are dozens of pumpkins for cooking, but then there are specific Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins bred for your carving pleasure. When choosing a pumpkin for carving, look for “Goldilock Pumpkin” meaning one that isn’t too heavy or light for its size. Also look for lighter color pumpkins (indicate soft shells) with little to no nicks or bruises. Thicker pumpkins are good for sculpting the exterior without breaking into the hollow end.
Pumpkin Carving Tips #2: Preparing the Pumpkin
Now that you’ve got the pumpkin of the year, it’s time to prep it for the makeover. Start by cutting off the top with a sturdy knife. Be careful not to cut yourself while turning and cutting at an angle so that the lid can sit back on top. Next, grab a large spoon or simply plunge your hands into the pumpkin seeds and sinews. Scrape out all the insides and save the seeds for a healthy snack!
Pumpkin Carving Tips #3: Design
I can see it in your eyes. You’ve got a design already projecting onto the front of that pumpkin. All you need to do is turn it into reality. You can go one of two ways. The first is taking a dry-erase marker and sketching out the design directly onto the pumpkin. The second is to draw it out on paper and trace through it with an X-Acto knife. The second method is probably better off for sculpting just in case you make an accidental cut.
Pumpkin Carving Tips #4: Carving
En Garde, Pumpkin! It’s time to meet your maker. Well, carver. This means it’s time for the first cut. If you are afraid to cut beyond your design, cut a little further from the lines with a strong knife. Then with a fillet or boning knife, saw off more pumpkin sliver by sliver until you meet your design. You may want to purchase cheap pumpkin carving tools from the craft store that have smaller tools for maneuvering around tight spaces. If you’re sculpting a pumpkin, you’ll need to really visualize the depth of your design to make it three-dimensional. You will also need sculpting tools like cutting loops or scalpels to shave off layers from the surface towards the center.
Pumpkin Carving Tips #5: Lighting + Finished Product
After you’ve reached 90% completion of your pumpkin carving, grab a flashlight or a tea candle and do a test light of your pumpkin. Smooth out any rough edges with a detail knife and adjust depths if you are sculpting. A neat trick to help your pumpkin last longer (around two weeks) is spraying it daily with a pumpkin preservative that stops fungus from rotting the exposed pumpkin. Once you’re happy with your product, it’s time to set it outside for the whole world to admire! If you’re using a candle, place it in a clear glass cup so that you avoid burning anything down.
Finally, the work is done and you have got yourself a bonafide Halloween Jack-O-Lantern! Bring the fun to your loved ones and share the experience. When carving with children, assist them with larger tools and exercise cutting safety. No one wants to see real blood on Halloween!