Carving the perfect pumpkin

Photo credit: Paul Kingsley, Photo Editor

Halloween is coming up and carving pumpkins is a tradition along side dressing up as a favorite character. Pumpkins serve as an important part in the environment and spirituality of Halloween, as well as the history. Scary, funny, goofy or traditional, each pumpkin has their own character and it is up to you to decide what kind of character your pumpkin will be.

Carving a pumpkin is not as hard as it seems. There are also kits that are available at the grocery store or at Target and Wal-Mart that range from $3-$5. These kits include all the tools you need to carve the pumpkin including a serrated knife and scooper, along with patterns that you can trace onto the pumpkins to make it easier to carve.  There are also many free patterns online.

The best time to carve a pumpkin is just a few days before Halloween or the night before. This way the pumpkin is fresh and won’t rot.

The life span of a pumpkin is not that long, once it is carved. It can last anywhere from a week to a couple of days. To help preserve the life of the pumpkin, you can coat the entire pumpkin, inside and out, with petroleum jelly, pumpkin preserver spray or pumpkin dip available at grocery stores. You can also keep the pumpkin in the refrigerator overnight to try and keep it fresh.

Whether it’s with friends and family, or just by yourself, carving pumpkins is a fun way to get in the Halloween mood. To make the perfect pumpkin for your Halloween party or just to display in the window, follow these easy steps and in no time you will have a wonderful carved pumpkin. Don’t forget to take pictures!

NEED: a clean medium-large, round pumpkin

A large spoon

Serrated knife

Permanent maker

Garbage bag

Newspaper

Tea candle

STEP ONE:  Lay the newspaper out across your counter so that you don’t get it dirty and clean up is easier.

STEP TWO:  Draw a circle around the top of the pumpkin with the permanent marker and proceed to cut the circle out with the serrated knife. As you cut out the top hole, angle the knife so that the lid and hole will be cone shaped. This will help prevent the lid from falling into the hole. Once you have cut around the entire top, pull off the top, take off the goop with the knife and put aside.

STEP THREE: Using the large spoon, scoop out the inside ‘goop’ and seeds until there is none left; throw the remains in the trash bag.  Or, if you’d like, save the seeds and bake them.

STEP FOUR: With the permanent maker, draw the design you wish your pumpkin to have. This can range from an outlandish drawing if you are artistic, or you can keep it simple by drawing different shapes as the facial features (i.e.: diamonds, hearts, squares, stars, circles, triangles).

STEP FIVE: Using the serrated knife, cut out the shapes you have drawn on your pumpkin. Throw the parts that come off the pumpkin in the trash. If it’s part of the design, don’t remove it.

STEP SIX: Once you have finished carving, place the tea candle inside, in the middle of the pumpkin and replace the top back on the pumpkin. A Votive candle, placed in a clear glass candleholder is safer and will actually last longer. White candles give off better light and will look better in the pumpkin. Light it, turn off the lights, and enjoy!