With Halloween right around the corner now is the best time to start pumpkin carving! Whether or not you’ve got your pumpkin yet, our 7 tips below are a helpful guide for making a better jack o’lantern.
Check the Stems
If you’re heading to the pumpkin patch, look for a pumpkin with a good, thick stem. A thicker stem means a heavier pumpkin, and these are the best kind for carving since they have thicker walls and more flesh to work with. This is especially good if you plan on carving a detailed design or if you want a very large face for your jack o’lantern.
Consider Using Oddly Shaped Pumpkins
While you’re perusing the pumpkin selection don’t discount the oddly shaped pumpkins. There’s no rule saying a jack o’lantern needs to be perfectly round. Oblong, asymmetric, and even flat sided pumpkins are just opportunities to get more creative with your design.
Find the Right Tools
Make sure you have the right tools before you start pumpkin carving. While those pumpkin carving kits in the grocery store might be convenient they don’t have the best tools to carve with. Try using pottery tools, especially ribbon tools, that you can find in your local art supply store. Look in your kitchen drawers too. Everything from peelers to lemon zesters can be useful tools when working on an intricate design.
Think Twice Before Cutting the Top
Traditionally, the first cut into a pumpkin would be into the top to remove the stem. However, doing this cuts the vine and dries out the pumpkin. It can also mean a liquidy mess you have to clean up on your kitchen table. The same mess holds true if you try to cut out the bottom of the pumpkin. Try cutting a hole in the back of the pumpkin instead.
Clean It All Out
Yes, all those pumpkin guts need to come out. They can go moldy if left in your pumpkin and you don’t want to end up throwing out your jack o’lantern before Halloween night. Scrape the pumpkin walls down to get all those little strings out. If it really grosses you out, you can always wear some kitchen gloves.
It’s good to have an idea of how you want your jack o’lantern to look before you start pumpkin carving. Doodle out some ideas on a piece of paper beforehand. Once you’ve found one you like, use a pen or a marker to draw it on to the pumpkin. Or tape the design right onto the pumpkin.
Make it fun!
Pumpkin carving is a great family activity! Scraping out those pumpkin guts can be a contest of who can clean their pumpkins first. Making little (or even big) mistakes are just opportunities to get even more creative with your design. All that matters is that everyone had fun when they’ve finished their jack o’lanterns.
Don’t forget to share your jack o’lanterns when you’re done! We’d love to see what you’ve created.