Is there anything more synonymous with Halloween than the humble pumpkin?
Indeed, picking out the perfect pumpkin and then spending a cosy evening carving into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece is surely one of the most enjoyable Halloween traditions… in theory.
In reality, it’s actually quite a lot harder than it looks, as anyone who has ever attempted it will surely testify!
So, just how do you carve the perfect pumpkin and become the envy of everyone? Read on for everything you need to know about how to carve a pumpkin like a pro and create a truly spooktacular display.
1. Pick the perfect pumpkin
Before you even think about getting out that carving knife, crafting your perfect creepy creation all starts with picking the perfect pumpkin.
Choose one that’s as fresh as possible and has a flat bottom so that it will sit well and won’t keep rolling around. One of the most important things to look at is the stem, which should be fully intact and green.
2. Cut out the lid or bottom
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to carving a pumpkin - from the top, or from the bottom.
Begin by drawing a circle where you want to carve and then carefully cut it out, taking care not to not cut too far down or up so as to leave plenty of room for your design.
While the traditional method is to cut from the top, some people say that this causes the pumpkin to weaken and therefore degrade more quickly. Cutting the bottom (or even the back) may keep more moisture inside the pumpkin and allow your masterpiece to last for longer. Whichever method you choose, ensure there is enough space to comfortably reach in.
3. Scoop out the inside
This is probably the least fun part - but it’s not too bad if you approach it right!
While you can buy a special pumpkin scooper, a standard ice cream scoop from the back of your cupboard works just as well - or even just a large spoon if you don’t have one to hand.
Be sure to scoop out all the gunk and seeds from inside the pumpkin, leaving a wall of approximately 1 to 1¼ inch thick.
Pro tip: Save the seeds and use them to make a tasty snack!
4. Create your design
Draw your design onto the pumpkin using a marker - ideally one that is wipeable.
If you’re not very confident, try sketching a rough design on paper first in case you make a mistake. For elaborate designs, you could even use tracing paper to transfer your design directly onto the pumpkin.
5. Start cutting
Carefully cut out your design, holding the pumpkin with your other hand to stabilise it.
This part can be tricky, so start by roughly cutting the easier bits and then tidying up the edges of your design afterwards. Gently pushing on the part you are cutting can help to make this easier.
6. Create a chimney
If you’re planning to use a real candle inside your pumpkin (rather than a battery operated alternative), make sure there’s enough ventilation to allow the smoke to escape. Cut a vent in the lid - or even remove the lid entirely.
Now you know how to carve a pumpkin like a pro, head to your local shops to find everything you need for Halloween!