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Tips and Tricks to Carving the Perfect Pumpkin

Oct 10, 2017 09:57AM ● Published by Caitlin Marshall

Fall is in the air and it’s time to get into the spirit of Halloween—and there’s really no better way to do it than to carve your own jack-o-lantern. Once thought of as merely kids play, pumpkin carving has become an art form that when displayed with an array of colored mums or the right ghostly and goblin can give your home the charm and feel you and your kids or guests will love. Whether you’re an experienced pumpkin sculptor or an elementary-school carver, here are a few tips and tricks that can easily improve your results, making for a jack-o-lantern you’ll keep on display through All Saints Day. 

-Bigger pumpkins are normally easier to carve, but before you grab the largest one of the lot, do a thorough inspect.

-A lighter color means softer flesh that’s easier to carve in detail.

-Any bruises, cuts or soft spots can mean the pumpkin’s already started rotting. A bad sign if you want it to last more than a few days.

-Give your pumpkin a lift. If it’s heavy, it’ll probably have thicker flesh. It should feel somewhat light, meaning it is nice and hollow inside.

Ready Set Carve

-You’re only as good as your carving tool. A sharp boning knife with a thin blade and pointed end is a good choice for carving small details.

-For cutting out the lid, you might want a larger carving knife or even a serrated knife to help you saw through the thick rind.

-When cutting out the lid, make sure your cut is at an angle so the lid won’t fall into the pumpkin.

Safety Tip: If you’re carving with kids, don’t just hand them a deadly weapon and let them start hacking away with it. Pick up a pumpkin carving set that includes a safety knife designed for small hands (Sounds stupid, but that’s the world we live in).

 Gutting the Gourd

-Here comes another of Halloween’s greatest moments: Reaching inside a pumpkin and pulling out a handful of gooey guts and slimy seeds. But wait! Don’t throw away the seeds! Rinse them, then place on a baking pan and sprinkle with some Creole seasoning before placing in the oven at 300 degrees for approx 35 minutes or until golden brown. They’re a perfect snack!

-Scrape the inside of the pumpkin completely to expose the light-colored flesh, which reflects more light. You can use a large spoon or ice cream scoop for scraping.

Designing Your Masterpiece

-If you’re going for high art, print or draw your design on paper first. Then lightly trace the design through the paper and onto the preferred side of the pumpkin with the tip of your knife; or sketch your design directly onto the pumpkin with a dry-erase or water-based marker.

Shine Baby Shine 

-It can be surprisingly hard to keep a candle lit inside some pumpkins—make sure you provide enough oxygen to feed the flame by leaving the lid ajar or by removing the lid completely while burning a candle.

-Avoid a pumpkin inferno by placing a tea light inside a pint glass. Or many stores now sell small LED lights that are safe and inexpensive.

And finally, want to keep your perfectly carved creation indoors? Sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg on the inside and ole jack can double as an autumn air freshener. 

Family, Acadiana Life how to carve a pumpkin