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How to Carve a Pumpkin

Pumpkin Carving TipsMuch of the Halloween thrill lies in its preparation – buying or making a Pumpkin Halloween Costume, setting a coffin decorated with fake cobwebs, creating fake goblins to make your yard resemble a spooky graveyard, and preparing double trouble witches’ brew punch that bubbles.

But what is the essence of the Halloween tradition without the jack-o’-lantern? This roots of this distinctly American tradition go back hundreds of years, when the Pilgrims saw the Native Americans harvesting pumpkins, drying its strips to weave mats, use the dried shells for bowls and water vessels and eating the rest.

Then came the Irish lore of “Stingy Jack,” a miserable old drunk who played tricks on people and on Halloween, sold his soul to the devil for a drink. Jack-o’-Lanterns had arrived.

Today pumpkin carving is an urban art form, but an easier option is to use stencils. Some sources are:

Pumpkin Patterns

Pumpkin Stencils

Pumpkin Carving Patterns

A stencil pattern doesn’t guarantee that your Jack-o’Lantern will be perfect. Here are some steps to carve a lovely pumpkin, with or without a stencil.

1. Pick your pumpkin BEFORE you choose your stencil. The quality of your pumpkin can affect the outcome.

2. Know what you want before choosing a pumpkin. Do you want something large? Do you want a straight stem, a curved stem or a long stem?

3. Pick a quality pumpkin. While choosing a pumpkin, check its firmness. If the pumpkin is soft it could be rotting. examin the pumpkin. It should be very orange with no holes or cracks.

4. Carry the pumpkin correctly. Hold it at the bottom. If you carry it by the stem, it will break off. This will particularly be a problem if you liked the stem of the pumpkin you chose.

5. Carving time. Now the carving begins. Choose your work area and cover it with a lot of old newspapers. Carving can be messy.

6. The right tools. You will need a serrated knife, or any knife with teeth. You may also want a trowel or an ice cream scooper to clear out the insides of the pumpkin. However, this can also be done with your bare hands.

7. Cut off the top. Grip the pumpkin and with your serrated knife, cut off the top and set it aside. The hole on the top should be large enough to fit your hand inside of it.

8. Scrape. Using your hands, scrape out all the flesh inside the pumpkin. You may also do this using an ice cream scooper or a trowel. The pumpkin should have no guts or seeds left inside. It must be thoroughly clean.

9. Get artsy. Once you’ve gutted the pumpkin, use a marker to draw the face that you want on your pumpkin. You can also use a pumpkin stencil. There are many options including a mean pumpkin, a Disney pumpkin and a Mario pumpkin, among others. The stencils include pre-planned sheets that you can trace over.

10. Light it. A tea light candle works very well and is your safest bet.

11. Safety. Place your lighted pumpkin in a safe place with no flammable materials nearby. Also, keep it off the ground because some trick-or-treaters may accidentally knock it over.

Happy Halloween!