There are few activities as traditional and timeless as heading to the pumpkin patch and finding that perfect pumpkin to carve some spooky Halloween designs with the family. Now, you might think you already know all there is to know about picking the perfect pumpkin and preserving its beauty all season long…but, we bet there are a few tips and tricks in here that you haven’t heard of before. Our guide to pumpkin carving reveals how to select the right pumpkin, the best way to carve it, and how to roast those delicious pumpkin seeds afterwards!
Whether it’s a spooky, simple or scary design, it’s time to spruce up your porch and make your neighbours jealous with your own pumpkin creations! First things first, head to the grocery store or the pumpkin patch and grab your perfect pumpkins!
How to pick the perfect pumpkin:
- Look for a pumpkin that has a deep orange color.
- Knock on the pumpkin to check if it is hollow (and therefore, ripe).
- Make sure the stem of your pumpkin is firm and secure.
Pro tip: never pick a pumpkin up by its stem. This will lead to faster decaying.
- Avoid pumpkins with any bruises on them.
- Look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom for easier carving.
How to carve your pumpkin so it lasts all season:
Now that you’ve brought your pumpkins home, safe and sound (we hope), it’s time to start setting up your carving station. Make sure you have all the supplies you need for this messy afternoon, and search for great deals on all of your pumpkin carving needs on the Flipp app!
What you will need:
- Pumpkin carving kit OR
- Boning knife
- Rubber gloves (optional)
- Pumpkin carving “claw”
- Ice cream scooper (optional)
- Something to keep your pumpkin carving station clean (table cloth, newspaper etc)
- Paper to sketch out your design
- Pen or marker
- Serrated or utility knife
- Baking tray
- Olive oil or Avocado oil
- Salt or desired pumpkin seasoning
Now it’s time for the fun part: dissecting and carving your pumpkin to create your Halloween masterpiece.
Carving your Pumpkin:
Step 1: Cut from the bottom of the pumpkin, not the top.
It is said that if you cut your lid from the bottom of the pumpkin, rather than the top, it will prevent the sides from caving in later on. If you do choose to cut from the top, cut the lid on an angle. That way, the lid won’t fall inside the pumpkin when you put it back on top. Use a boning knife for this step.
Flipp Tip: For a helpful visual aid on how to carve, you can watch this video by Good Housekeeping.
Step 2: Scoop out all the pulp.
This step is one that you’ll either love or hate. If you don’t love the feeling of pumpkin between your fingers, you can purchase a special claw for pumpkin gutting, or use an ice cream scooper. Of course, you can always use your hands, whatever works. Put the insides in a bowl, we’ll tell you what to do with them later on.
Flipp Tip: Thin out the inner wall where the “face” of your pumpkin will go to about 1 ¼ inches thick. This will make it easier to pierce the shell once you start carving.
Step 3: Plan out your design.
You’ll want to prepare your masterpiece before you start carving to avoid making mistakes. The best way to do this is to draw your pumpkin design to scale on a piece of paper first, and tape it to your pumpkin. From there, take a fork or a pencil to poke holes through the lines of your design. This will make carving out the design SO much easier.
Flipp Tip: In need of some inspiration? Check out some of these free printable stencils from Pumpkin Pile.
Step 4: Start carving.
For this step, we recommend using a serrated knife or x-acto knife. Clean, up and down slices work best. Try to cut out the bigger pieces first. You can go back and clean up the edges once you get the overall design out of the way.
Step 5: Keep your pumpkin fresh.
Add Petroleum jelly on the cut edges of your pumpkin to seal in the pumpkin’s moisture. If you find that your pumpkin is still shrivelling a couple days later, try putting it face down in a cold water soak for up to 8 hours to bring it back to life.
Step 6: Make a chimney in your pumpkin to release the smoke.
You’ve carved your pumpkin, but now you need to make your creation glow safely. If you followed our instructions and cut the opening of your pumpkin from the bottom, then you will need to make a small incision at the top of your pumpkin or a “chimney” to let the smoke out. And voila, your pumpkin is ready to be showcased on your front porch! Make sure you have a family vote for best pumpkin first, though.
If you are using a battery operated candle, you can skip this step.
Roasting the pumpkin seeds:
Now, what to do with all those pumpkin guts you put aside?
- Separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp that you scooped from your pumpkin.
- Give the pumpkin seeds a good rinse with water. Some choose to soak the seeds overnight in room temperature water with a dash of salt, we recommend this, if you have the patience for it.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Dry the seeds with a towel and place them in a bowl. Toss with oil to coat them, then sprinkle with your seasoning of choice! (salt, brown sugar, cinnamon)
- Spread them on a baking sheet and bake the seeds for 10 minutes.
- Take the seeds out and spread/stir them around, then pop them back in for another five minutes until they have lightly browned.
From the Flipp Family to yours, we wish you a spooky, but safe, Halloween season! Whatever that looks like this year.