I don't know about you, but I love carving pumpkins. The smell that erupts from a pumpkin when you take off the top, the goo inside that stains your hands orange. There is nothing like it. I thought today I would give some pumpkin carving tips that I keep in mind as I carve each year. Remember, you're never too old to carve a pumpkin!
1. When picking your pumpkin, make sure to find one that doesn't have any cuts or bruises. These two issues can cause molding/drying out/becoming mushy. Also, make sure it is a good shape, one with at least one side good for carving. One of the things I find important is the stem. I love a pumpkin with a good stem that makes it easy to carve and also take the top off by.
2. One of the things people don't think to do is wipe your pumpkin clean. It's easier to tell what is the best side to carve, avoiding all imperfections. Make sure to dry it off once it looks clean.
3. When cutting the "lid" of the pumpkin, make sure to cut in slanted so that the lid will be able to sit in the pumpkin. A secret I usually do is to cut a notch so that you know how the lid fits back on.
4. Here's the gooey part. You can use just about anything to scoop out the seeds and strings, but the best thing I've found it an ice cream scoop. This leaves the inside of your pumpkin super clean without any of the stringiness that tends to make carving harder and can even catching on fire (if you use traditional candles).
5. I usually separate the cleaner seeds (and I also clean them in a colander and blot them dry) and put them on a cookie sheet. I salt the seeds (garlic salt or seasoning salt is good too) and then put them in the oven (at 250-275F) until they are starting to turn golden. It usually takes about an hour and make sure to turn them over a few times.
6. Now that you have a sparkly clean pumpkin, inside and out, you get to carve it! I usually search Google for patterns. You can find a ton of great free ones and will make your pumpkin look like it was carved by a professional.
Just print it out on your home printer, slit the corners and tape it to your pumpkin. To "trace" the pattern to your pumpkin, use a toothpick or something of the sort (closed scissors that come to a point work or even sharper tweesers) to make little holes/marks along the parts you want to carve. Make sure you make enough that you can see the pattern once you untape the paper from your pumpkin. Once you're sure you'll be able to see it, take the paper off and keep it near you to verify as you go. They make many tools that are kid friendly to make the actual cuts. If you are an adult and feel comfortable, a semi dull knife (but sharper than a butter knife) will cut into the pumpkin smoothly. Small, even, slow cuts should get the job done. If you rush it, especially when the shapes get very close, the pumpkin skin can collapes. If this happens, and a piece that is important to you design starts to come out or is totally detached, you can reattach with a toothpick inside. It won't be as good as new, but at least people will still be able to see what your design is all about.
7. This is the most important part of the whole process, make sure to have fun. We usually put newspaper down on the dining room table where we can see the TV and watch a scary movie. It will get you in the Halloween spirit!
8. Remember not to put your pumpkin out or even carve too early, or it will dry out (or if you live somewhere moist, will mold). Dusk is a great time to get a good picture of your little beauty! I'll try and take some pictures of my pumpkin this year to share with you all next week!
Questions for Aprilynne Pike!
7 years ago