10 Tips To Make Your Jack-O-Lantern and Eat It Too
Fall is in full force with pumpkin patches, pumpkin baking and, of course, pumpkin carving! With Halloween just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get your pumpkin carving started. Carving pumpkins has always been one of my all-time favorite fall traditions. It is a wonderful ritual to participate in during the harvest season with family and friends. Get the most out of your pumpkin carving experience with these helpful tips!
1. Choose your perfect pumpkin – Whether you are visiting a pumpkin patch or your local grocery store, it’s important to choose the best pumpkin for your carving needs! Make sure your pumpkin is sturdy and ripe so it will last longer, and that its stem is long enough to grasp onto when creating the lid. I generally choose more than one pumpkin to experiment with various carving ideas, as well as any I may need for cooking or for family and friends.
2. Get the right equipment – There are several items you will need for a perfect pumpkin carving experience, like a good carving knife and sturdy spoon. I recommend getting a pumpkin carving kit rather than a plain old carving knife because it has extra tools for all the various steps involved in crafting your pumpkin. You may also want to have a pair of rubber gloves handy.
3. Set up your carving studio – Pumpkin carving can get messy, so it’s a good idea to set aside a specific area for carving. I usually use my kitchen table. I clear it off and lay down some newspaper and/or a table cloth to help make the clean-up process easier. You may want to lay out baking trays or mixing bowls as well!
4. Plan your design – Creating your pumpkin carving freehand can be a lot of fun, but using stencils can also be a great way to show off your skills. Pumpkin stencils can be purchased at your nearby craft store or printed online for free (my favorite source)! Creating an outline in pencil or by poking small holes in the pumpkin before starting to carve can help you avoid mistakes.
5. Invite your friends and family – Pumpkin carving is exceedingly more fun when you share it with the people you care about. Since I was a child, I have enjoyed carving pumpkins with my mom. Half the fun of carving pumpkins is creating happy memories with the people most important to you, so do not forget to include your loved ones!
6. Open and clean out your pumpkin – Once you have everything you need – pumpkin, equipment, design choice, and your favorite people – you’re ready to begin! Start by cutting the lid of your pumpkin. Cut a hole that is at least the size of your fist so you can easily grab all the seeds and pumpkin pulp. Once you have your lid cut, pull it off and remove all the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin with an ice cream scoop or scraper. Put these insides onto your baking tray or mixing bowl!
7. Cook and eat what’s inside – Pumpkin carving is tiring work, so after you’ve got all the pumpkin innards out you may want to stave off your hunger by making some tasty treats. Pumpkin seeds and even the slippery, orange pumpkin pulp can be made into mouthwatering meals! Spice up your baking by using the pumpkin pulp to make your favorite pumpkin recipe or add your favorite seasonings to the pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack.
8. Carefully carve your design – Now that your pumpkin is empty and you’re all full of pumpkin-y goodness, it’s time to start carving your design! Follow along slowly with your design using a sharp carving knife. If you have trouble cutting through a particularly large pumpkin, use a pencil, paper clip or fork to poke small holes along your design to make it easier!
9. Document your experience – Carving pumpkins creates the perfect opportunity to snap photos of your family and friends (especially when they are covered in orange, slimy pumpkin pulp)! Be certain to capture your carving memories and your final result. When my jack-o-lantern is complete, I like to put a candle in it and take it outside to get a snapshot of the final masterpiece. It’s an amazing photo to add to any fall collection!
10. Share your results – Don’t forget to share your pumpkin carving design when finished! Put your pumpkin outside for neighbors to see, take pictures to add to your scrapbook collection, or share your final design on social media.For all of you creative masterminds out there, there are even pumpkin carving contests for you to enter. However you share your pumpkin carving creation, the most important thing is to have fun with it!