How to Carve a Pumpkin into a Jack-o’-Lantern

Welcome to Jack-O’-Lantern Season!

It’s that time of year, and if you’re like me, there is a great, big, orange pumpkin taking up a lot of counter space. I am no expert.  I was looking for some tips on how to carve a pumpkin, too.

Fall is a busy time, with back to school, and back to work, and the daylight changing. Somewhere at the end of October we seem to raise our heads out of that frenzy, and start to enjoy the time of year.

Finally, I’ve got a free afternoon! Now’s the time to get our hands dirty.

Tips on How to Carve a Pumpkin

1. Choose a Design for your Jack-O’-Lantern

Follow a template.  Choose a design. There are a lot of inspirations for pumpkin Jack-o’-lantern designs, many with free downloadable templates you can print.

Pumpkin Carving Templates:

2. Tools You’ll Need to Carve Your Pumpkin into a Jack-O’-Lantern

Make sure you have a workspace that is large enough to roll around your pumpkin, and maybe put some newspaper down so the mess is contained.

Need a pumpkin? How about a Visit to a Pumpkin Patch in Vancouver?

Pumpkin Carving Essential Tools:

  • 1 Pumpkin. Seems pretty obvious, but get one large enough to hold a candle, or lights. Try to find a symmetrically round one for a more traditional jack-o’-lanterns, or get an odd-shaped one for a unique looking jack-o’-lantern! If you can find one with a nice long stem, it will look even better.
  • Black Marking Pen, to outline your design.
  • A Carving Knife, or a 4-7 inch Vegetable Knife.
  • A Big Spoon, to scoop out the seeds. A metal ladle or metal spoon works best.
  • A Bowl, to put the pumpkin seeds and pulp into. You can roast the seeds later!
  • A Dish Towel, to help stop the pumpkin from rolling around, and clean up.

3. Let’s Start to Carve Your Pumpkin into a Jack-O’-Lantern

Roll up your sleeves and let’s get started.  If orange is not your colour, wear something you don’t mind getting stained with orange pulp. Cleaning and carving a pumpkin is a messy affair.

  • Cut a Lid Along the Top. You can just make the cut a simple line, or you can do a zig-zag pattern. This year, I’m doing a hybrid of both.
  • Scoop Out the Seeds and Pulp. A spoon usually works best, getting your hands in there is fun, but to get some of the stringy pulp, you’ll need a big spoon. Save the seeds and roast them with a little olive oil and salt, for snacking on later. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with healthy fats, magnesium and zinc according to Healthline (Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds)
  • Draw Your Design on the Pumpkin. Break out the template, the black marker and your imagination.
  • Cut The Design with the Carving Knife. It’s okay to just cut straight, rough edges. You can do some finer detail later. But mostly, be careful! Pumpkins can be hard to cut through, work in smaller sections, and work away from your self.  Work on the finer details, if you like.  Or just keep it simple.  Whatever you make, it will be your special Jack!

Here’s a tip, if you have carved an odd shaped lid, use the marker to mark an X where the lid should align. Comes in handy when it’s dark at night and you’re trying to place the lid on top after you’ve lit the jack-o’-lantern!

4. Let’s Light Our Jack-O’-Lantern

The hard work is done. Let’s enjoy our work!

  • Light it up! I often put a votive in a small canning jar, or use a bit of foil at the bottom of the pumpkin so the candle does not slide around. If you use candles, remember to be safe with any open flame. Keep fire away from anything close, and blow it out if you’re leaving it along.  Some people use battery powered lights, for greater safety.

Happy Halloween!  Enjoy!

Learn from the Pros, here’s a video from WSJ on How to Carve a Pumpkin: Lessons from Pros

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