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How To Carve The Perfect Pumpkin

Two carved jack o lanterns

By Elijah O’Donnell

Pumpkins! They’re as essential to Halloween as dressing up and free candy. Whether it’s carving, baking or roasting the seeds, chances are these little orange fools are making an appearance in your spooky season. But, carving pumpkins can be a daunting task! What to carve, how to carve it and what to do with the leftovers?

Here’s how to carve the perfect pumpkin this year!

It all starts with one little secret that must be accounted for as early as buying the pumpkin you’re about to carve. Every pumpkin is the perfect pumpkin!

At the store, stop to consider the possibilities that a “misshapen” pumpkin could offer! Obviously there’s that classic short, plump jack o’lanterns, but what about her awkwardly tall friend? Or one that’s got a weird slope down one side? Maybe that creates space for a jutting chin or an accentuated brow on top? Even the stem can be taken into account. Just like floating in space, when it comes to jack o’lanterns there is no “up”. Rotate a long stem into a witches nose or a stylish ponytail, maybe the remaining horn of a defeated demon, whos other has been snapped off by the knight pumpkin to its left.

If you’re having trouble deciding what to carve, check Google! There’s no shame in using someone else’s design on a porch decoration that’s going to last three weeks max. Or, better yet, take a pre-existing carving and improve upon it! Maybe you’ve got an idea for a better nose or more sinister eyes?

Once it’s home, the right tools must be assembled! Four go-to pieces of equipment are a knife of course, something to scoop/scrape out the guts of the pumpkin, a bowl for said guts and optionally a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The baking sheet is where all of the pumpkin seeds can go if roasting them sounds like a good idea (it is).

Sketching out the masterpiece about to be carved can be a good idea if you’re nervous about free handing it, so grab a pen or sharpie. You don’t just have to carve a face, maybe a big pumpkin house for the little pumpkin inside or an abstract art piece is more your fancy.

Two carved jack o lanterns
Photo via Unsplash

Time to saw off the top and start scooping! If you’re inclined, set all of the seeds, removed from the stringy pumpkin entrails, on the baking sheet for later.

Now that a plan is mapped out, and innards made outards, it’s time to carve! What works best is a paring knife or small steak knife used as a paring knife. If you’re craving and you mess up a cut or realise that maybe this eye doesn’t really look like an eye after all. Turn it into an eyebrow! Or anything else for that matter! Remember, there is always the other side if you need to completely restart.

Hopefully by this pound there is a masterpiece carved out of what was once a simple orange blob sitting in front of you. Well done! You’ve just carved your perfect pumpkin! Leave that bad boy on the front porch with a tealight or LED tealight candle, for your neighbors and trick or treaters alike to enjoy!

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