How to carve the perfect pumpkin - HMS National, Inc.

How to carve the perfect pumpkin

October 6, 2014

If you love Halloween, you probably start planning your decorations on the first day of October. Out come the cobwebs, skeletons and, of course, pumpkins! Head to your local farm stand early to get the best possible pumpkins, and use these tips to create your best carving ever.

Picking a pumpkin
There are a couple of things you should look for when picking a pumpkin. First, make sure it doesn't have any bruises or soft spots. If it does, the pumpkin is already beginning to rot and will only last a few days once carved. Instead, look for a pumpkin with darker skin. This means it's fresh and will last much longer. You should also test the weight of your pumpkin. If it's too heavy, the flesh is probably quite thick and will be a hassle to carve. You want a lighter pumpkin that's nice and hollow inside.

Preparing your canvas
Once you've chosen the perfect pumpkin, it's time to do a little prep work. If you choose to go the traditional route, use a large carving knife to cut out the lid. Be sure to cut at an angle so the lid can be replaced. If your kids are helping, do the serious knife-wielding for them. Another option is to cut a 4- or 5-inch opening in the bottom of your pumpkin. This method makes it much easier to light your candle. Next, use a spoon, ice-cream scoop or whatever other tool you have available to clean out the inside of your pumpkin. Once the inside walls are smooth, you're ready to carve!

Carving a design
If you're planning to get fancy with your design, sketch it out on paper first. Alternatively, you can draw on the pumpkin with a water-based marker. Hold your sketch up to the pumpkin and poke guidance holes using a sharp pencil. Next, take your carving tool - preferably a boning knife or carving saw - and make the first cut somewhere in the middle of your design. You should start at the center of the pumpkin and work your way out. Use gentle sawing motions to follow your pattern. Sometimes it's easier to cut out large sections in a few small pieces. Once you're finished, smooth down any jagged edges and insert a candle or battery-powered light. To make your pumpkin last longer, lightly mist it with water every few days.

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