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Pumpkin Carving

It seems that you can’t have a Halloween celebration without pumpkin-seedsa bit of pumpkin carving. But if you haven’t carved one before, it could seem a little daunting.

We decided to put together some simple, straight forward instructions to help the first time carver. And you never know, you seasoned carvers out there may even learn a thing or two.

Pumpkin Carving Basics

What you’ll need:

  • A pumpkin
  • A marker pen
  • A knife or pumpkin saw
  • A spoon or scoop
  • A candle

How to carve the pumpkin

1. The design

First things first, lets plan what we’re going to do with this pumpkin. What do you want it to look like? Is it going to have a face or an intricate design?
Once you’ve decided, find a nice smooth area and thing about where to place your design. Remember, you want it to be positioned centrally as if it’s too low, it may be difficult for people to get the full benefit of it when it’s placed on display.
You can use a stencil (we’ll cover that in more detail later) or just freehand it with a marker pen, as we have done here.

pumpkin pumpkin carving design

2. Getting inside

Cutting the pumpkin open can be tricky as the skin is tough and often the flesh is thick. For this reason I always use a sharp knife as opposed to a pumpkin saw (I have bent too many trying it that way). However, it’d obviously important that you’re very careful using the knife and if you’re young or inexperienced, it may be better to get someone else to do it. Also, be carful if you have kids around as pumpkins can also be slippery. It may be Halloween, but we don’t want any real bloody accidents here people.

Secondly, it’s important that you cut in at an angle. If you cut what will be the lid of your pumpkin straight down, then it will more than likely keep dropping through when you’re all finished, which will be very irritating.
As you can see in the image below, I tend yo just at about a 45 degree angle.

cutting lid pumpkin opening pumpkin

3. Scooping out the guts

Okay, a pumpkin is a fruit and doesn’t have ‘guts’, but I still like the term.:)

Using a pumpkin scoop (which often come in the carving kits) or a good old fashioned spoon, scoop the innards out of the pumpkin. You want to remove all of the stringy stuff and all of the seeds, leaving behind a nice, smooth level surface.
You can bin the stringy stuff, but keep the seeds and the firmer flesh. The seeds can be used for growing pumpkins or could be cooked and eaten and the flesh is perfect for many a pumpkin recipe, like creamy pumpkin soup for instance.

So get as much flesh as you can out without making the walls of the pumpkin too thin.

sccoping out the pumpkin scooped out pumpkin

4. Carving the pumpkin

Now is the final and most important part, carving the design.
Using a knife (again, BE CAREFUL) or, as is often preferred nowadays, a pumpkin saw (which can be found in carving kits) it’s time to carve the pumpkin following the design that we drew earlier.
Take your time and be sure not to apply too much pressure. Just one slip coule cut your perfectly prepared pumpkin and leave it looking a sorry state.
If you’re cutting angles, try to cut towards the bit of the pumpkin that you’re going to remove as opposed to cutting towards the bit that you want to keep, then you’re less likely to damage your design.

One final touch that I add is a hole or two in the lid part. This acts as a bit of a chimney once the candle is lit and allows the heat to escape reduces the amount of pumpkin singeing.

carving pumpkin saw carved pumpkin jack-o-lantern

Finally, pop in your candle, turn out the lights and try it out!

Now you’ve learnt the basics now why not check out these links?

Pumpkin recipes

Pumpkin stencils

Advanced pumpkin carving