Pumpkin carving is a great way to celebrate the Halloween season!
When Halloween ghosts and goblins are just around the corner, take a trip to your local farm stand or pumpkin patch and follow these tips for a fool-proof jack-o-lantern!
First, choose a large pumpkin. The bigger the pumpkin, the easier it is to carve. Avoid any pumpkin with bruises or moldy stems – they’ll spoil much faster. Light-colored pumpkins tend to be softer and easier to carve.
When cutting out the lid, angle the knife at 45 degrees. This will give the lid a place to rest when you replace it o it won’t fall through!
Use a large metal serving spoon or an ice cream scoop to scrape the insides. If you will be lighting the pumpkin, the back wall should be scraped as smooth as possible since this reflect the light. The optimal thickness for the pumpkin wall is about an one inch.
When cleaning out the pumpkin, save the seeds. Toasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy and tasty snack!
Toast or roast pumpkin seeds in your oven! The seeds may be salted or spiced to suit your palette. The shells are edible and are a good source of fiber. Click here for some yummy pumpkin recipes! http://goo.gl/1VnlIF
Beginners should select a simple, bold pattern. Once you master the simple patterns, you can move on to something more difficult.
Print out or draw the patter on a piece of paper. Use small sharp scissors or a razor to cut out the areas you will be carving into the pumpkin. Then tape the template onto the pumpkin and use a marker to trace the carving lines. Cutting slits in the paper will help it to conform to the round surface.
A log serrated knife or a pumpkin-carving knife with teeth will be necessary to cut through the thick flesh. Use a sawing motion and take your time cutting along the outside edge of the marker lines so there is no marker residue.
As an alternative, you can tape the outline to the pumpkin and use a nail or pushpin to score the carving lines onto the pumpkin. Connect the dots as you carve.
Preserving Your Pumpkin
For longer life, soak the cleaned pumpkin a couple of hours in a solution of bleach and water (one teaspoon bleach to one gallon of water). Dry thoroughly, then rub the pumpkin inside and out with vegetable oil or petroleum jell to prevent shriveling. Apply to the cut edges, too. If the pumpkin begins to shrivel, repeat the process.
Consider cutting off the bottom of the pumpkin as well as the top. The pumpkin will be more stable and also easier to carve. If you plan on using a candle to light your jack-o’-lantern, be sure the opening in the bottom is large enough to fit over the candle. Place the candle on a fireproof base large enough to accommodate the pumpkin. You can then easily lift off the jack-o’-lantern to light the candle.
Place the jack-o’-lantern in a plastic bag and refrigerate when not in use.
Try making an uncarved jack-o’-lantern by painting designs with paint or permanent markers. You can enjoy a decorated jack-o’-lantern but still use the pumpkin when Halloween has come and gone.
Do not eat a pumpkin that has been carved as a jack-o’-lantern.
Illuminating Your Pumpkin
If you will be lighting your jack-o’-lantern with a candle, be sure to leave the lid off to a avoid a fire hazard. Use a votive candle in a glass holder or tea lights in a metal case. If you want to leave the lid on, carve a hole in the unseen back side of the pumpkin to act as a chimney. NEVER leave a candle lit unattended for any length of time.
A small battery-operated flameless candle is a safer choice than traditional candles for lighting your jack-o’-lantern.
Sprinkle the bottom side of the pumpkin lid with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cloves to let your jack-o’-lantern smell good!
We hope you have an awesome Halloween season and got some helpful tips on carving your pumpkin into something spooktacular!
Happy Pumpkin Season!
Emily, Dustin and the Get Fit Now Team