What would Halloween be without a carved pumpkin sitting on your window sill or outside your front door, grinning wickedly at all the trick or treaters?
In line with our fantabulous Pumpkin Carving Competition on Facebook, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to carve the perfect pumpkin...
Plump for the Perfect Pumpkin
• First of all, head to your local supermarket or, if you’ve been brave enough to grow one, your pumpkin patch.
• Select a healthy pumpkin, not one with nicks, bruises or cuts. Scrutinise the stem, i.e. make sure it doesn’t feel too bendy. Also check it’s got consistent colour all the way around. Knock on the pumpkin skin like you would a melon. If it’s ripe, you’ll hear a hollow sound.
• Pick the size you need. The larger the pumpkin, the more elaborate your pumpkin carving session will be.
Get the Timing Right
Buy your pumpkin about a week or less before Halloween. The majority of pumpkins will be rotten beyond repair after a week – two weeks.
Cut a Hole in the Pumpkin
The best bet is to use a keyhole saw to cut the hole. If you’re using a candle for lighting, cut the hole at the top of the pumpkin. For electric lights, make the hole in the bottom or side so you can hide the cord.
Scoop Out the Flesh
Use a spoon, plaster scraper, ice cream scoop or fleshing tool to scrape out flesh, pulp and seeds.
Now it’s time to don your creative cap. You can buy pumpkin templates or, if you’re feeling arty, draw your own. Affix your design to the pumpkin and trace around it by poking holes with a sharp needle or toothpick. When you remove the template, you’ll be left with a dotted outline of the face.
May the Carving Commence
Remove the template and carve along the pattern with a mini saw or carving tool. Use a gentle sawing motion to avoid breaking bits off the pumpkin. If you want to make eyes, use a drill equipped with a 1/2 or 3/4-inch spade bit. Next, place candles, small torches or battery-operated illumination inside your pumpkin.
Handy tip: Apply a film of Vaseline. This will prevent exposed areas of the pumpkin’s flesh from turning brown.
On with the Lights
Either make a basic candleholder from tinfoil or use a tea-light. Alternatively, you could wrap a strand of 20 string lights around a glass jar and secure the wires with tape. Cut a small chimney hole in the lid to let the heat and smoke escape. And unless you want to burn your house down, unplug the lights / blow out the candle before leaving your abode or before going to sleep.
Here are 10 of the best carved pumpkins below to give you a bit of pumpkin-carving inspiration: