There are numerous pastimes and traditions that come into the spotlight as we head into the fall season. From playoff baseball, to the changing color of the fall leaves, we know exactly when the season is coming around. Halloween is the first holiday of the holiday season and is revered by children and families alike. With pastimes such as trick or treating, and haunted houses taking the front seat, we often forget about some of the others. One of our favorite Halloween traditions is the carving of pumpkins and the creation of “Jack-O-Lanterns.” However, carving pumpkins can be an intense process, especially when done with children. While it can be a great time, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind. Here are five tips for carving pumpkins this Halloween season.
Like a good doctor, you need to treat your pumpkin like a patient, waiting for an operation. The operating room needs to be both sanitary and clean. If this is simply a table in your kitchen or back patio, make sure to wipe it down. Secondly, you should wipe down the pumpkin with a diluted bleach solution. This will prevent your pumpkin from rotting and putting your hard work to waste. Use a table cover so the guts will be easily cleaned, and leave less of a mess.
One common mistake made by many pumpkin carvers is a lack of planning. Rather than simply cutting into the pumpkin, and creating a face as you go, draw your design on the pumpkin beforehand. Avoid wasting pumpkins or being disappointed with the result, and take a little extra time to plan your design. Many places offer pumpkin carving design kits, which may make this process even easier, as the tools within are specifically designed for pumpkin carving.
There are two simple reasons for this pumpkin carving tip. Cutting open the pumpkin from the bottom keeps the stem intact, and allows for the already settled seeds and goop to be assisted by gravity on their way out. Because your pumpkin has likely been sitting upright for some time, the guts and seeds will be settled at the bottom. Bonus Tip: If you put the seeds and guts into a bowl of cold water, the seeds will rise to the top and are not only edible but can be very tasty in many recipes.
Generally speaking, the walls of a pumpkin are going to be relatively thick. Anywhere from 2-3 inches, you want to thin the walls down to about an inch in thickness. This is especially important for the specific areas where you will be carving. There are various tools created for this exact task that can be very beneficial. The aforementioned pumpkin carving kits would possess these exact tools.
While a just-completed pumpkin carving may result in an aesthetically pleasing decoration, you can always level up. In the true spirit of Halloween, you should light your pumpkin. If you want an authentic experience you can try either a tea light or a pillar candle. However, these can be inconvenient, and a hazard. With a candle easily blown out, and not great for stormy conditions, there are better options. LED lights or Christmas lights can both be placed inside your pumpkin, but our favorite option is glowed sticks. These are both durable and bright and do not require batteries or an outlet.