Tammy’s Ten: Pumpkin Carving Tips

Fall is here. The pumpkins are ready. It’s time to make your Jack-O-Lantern. Carving a pumpkin is a fun tradition your family can do each year. If you haven’t done it or can’t remember how you may need a quick refresher. For handy hints and useful links see my list below.

1. Choose Your Pumpkin

Are you collaborating as a family or choosing individual pumpkins? Selecting your pumpkin to suit your design can aid in the carving process. Look for a pumpkin that has smooth skin. Deep ridges can be tricky. A large flat surface to carve the face is also recommended!

2. Wash Your Pumpkin

Before you bring the pumpkin inside, make sure to wash it well. Scrub off all the mud and dirt and check the stem for bugs. A clean dry surface will help you keep the design template in place. Lay your pumpkin down on newspapers to help clean up the mess!

3. Make a Lid

The most popular way to make a Jack-O-Lantern is to carve a lid on top. Just cut a wide circle around the stem that is bigger than your fist. Angling the blade when you make your cut helps secure the lid in place. Cutting a hole in the bottom instead makes candle lighting easier!

4. Choose a Design

Pumpkins can have personality. They just need a good design. Draw your own ideas on paper or print examples found online. See the websites listed below to help you choose a pumpkin pattern. Tear the edges of your template to help you tape the pattern on!

http://www.spookmaster.com/pumpkin-carving-patterns-freebies.htm

http://www.pumpkinlady.com/pattern.htm#2008

http://www.zombiepumpkins.com/patterns.php

5. Remove the Guts

After making a lid or hole in the pumpkin you need to remove the guts. Use an ice cream scoop or large metal spoon to scrape the inside clean. Using your hands can also work well; it just feels a little slimy. Dump the contents into a bowl to help you separate the seeds!

6. Carve the Face

Use a pumpkin saw or serrated knife to help you carve the face. Cutting the small sections first from the inside out is usually recommended. Cut with the blade at a sharper angle when trying a difficult pattern. To cut sharp corners remove your knife. Don’t keep your hands too close!

7. Decorate Your Pumpkin

Use toothpicks to aid with special effects. They work great for eyeballs, teeth and ears. Hats, bows and earrings can be used to add style. Add color with paint or make hair with yarn!

8. Cook the Seeds

Scoop the guts from the pumpkin into one large bowl. Transfer the seeds that you find to another. Wash the seeds thoroughly and dry them well. Season and bake until crispy! (Recipe below)

http://homecooking.about.com/od/vegetablerecipes/r/blv310.htm

9. Do Finishing Touches

After you carve a face on your pumpkin you still have work to do. Pick a spot by your window or porch for your pumpkin where visitors can easily view it. Make sure your Jack-O-Lantern has a stable surface so it doesn’t get knocked over. Turn down your lights and use a candle. Be safe and watch it glow!

10. Make a pie

After using your pumpkin as a Jack-O-Lantern you can still make pumpkin pie. The little pumpkins taste more traditional but you can use the big ones too. You’ve waited too late if the pumpkin looks brown; just throw it in your compost. For a recipe and handy cooking tips, see the website listed below!

http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/pumpkinpie.php

Halloween is a holiday that is loved by many kids. Children start to get excited as soon as fall arrives. Creating fun traditions can make wonderful family memories. Carving a pumpkin is simple and cheap. Make a Jack-O-Lantern this year!

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