Tips for Pumpkin Picking
Here are some tips and techniques to make it easier to give your pumpkin personality:
Pick Your Pumpkin
Be sure it has good color, is the right size and shape for the design you have in mind, it has a flat bottom, and no bruising. Don't carry it by its stem, or it might break or get damaged.
Clean Your Pumpkin
Draw a circle around the stem of your pumpkin, at least 5 inches in diameter. Slowly and carefully cut along lines with a carving saw. Angle the blade towards the center of the pumpkin to create a ledge that supports the cut piece and remove.
Clean out the seeds and strings. This can be done with your hand, as most kids prefer, or with a large spoon. Scrape the inner pulp away from the area you plan to carve until the pumpkin wall is approximately 1" thick. Discard the seeds, strings and pulp.
Design Your Pumpkin
While there are many creative patterns available, both on the internet and in stores, you can also draw your own on the pumpkin. The best thing to use is a Sharpie, so you can clearly see your lines.
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Techniques for Pumpkin Carving
Carve Your Pumpkin
The best thing to do is carve 2-3 days before Halloween, so that your jack o' lantern still looks fresh for the trick-or-treaters.
Play it safe by getting the special pumpkin-carving tools available in many stores right now. The tools are smaller, easier to manipulate, and much safer than traditional knives.
Preserve Your Pumpkin
Prevent your pumpkin from drying out by placing petroleum jelly on the cut edges of your carving. Also, spray the pumpkin with water mixed with a small amount of bleach. This will help ward off mold and kill insects for longer preservation.
Display your pumpkin
If you're using a candle for illumination, cut a hole on the upper, back part of the pumpkin. The hole will allow the candle's heat to escape.
Then, carve an opening on the bottom of the pumpkin, set the candle on a small piece of foil, and place the pumpkin over it.
For a multicolor display, use a battery-operated light with LED bulbs. Or a flashing light is ideal for spooky pumpkin carvings.
You can cast ghoulish shadows from the back of your pumpkin by carving a pattern, and setting it near a wall. It's a unique effect that will get the neighbors talking.
To create the smell of Halloween spice, sprinkle a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spice on the underside of the pumpkin lid.
Once the pumpkin is lit, it will create a wonderful seasonal scent.