What would Halloween be without brightly lit Jack o lanterns burning on the front walk? And, you don’t have to stop with one pumpkin carving either – the more the merrier.
Whether you choose a frightening face, a funny one, a goofy one, or decide to use a Jack o lantern pattern, the following tips will make the job easier and more fun. Plus, this year your carved pumpkin will last longer than ever.
Choose your design before you purchase your pumpkin. Whether you pick up your orange orb at the pumpkin patch or the grocery store, you will want to choose one with a design in mind. Halloween pumpkins come in all sorts of sizes and shapes; some are tall or long, some are short and fat, but each one has a personality waiting to come out. So pick one that matches what you have in mind, and your jack o lantern design will be easier to create.
When you begin your pumpkin carving and cut off the top of your pumpkin, use this tip. Cut it out in a hexagonal shape and angle your knife sharply in toward the center of the pumpkin. This way the top will be easier to put back on correctly and it won’t fall into the pumpkin.
It is important to scoop out all the flesh from inside the pumpkin. Make sure to carve down to the sturdiest part of the rind. A large spoon or an ice cream scoop works best for this. Leaving soft flesh encourages insects to make a meal of the inside of your jack o lantern and it will rot much quicker.
While you are carving away the flesh inside the pumpkin, be sure to carve a flat place into the bottom. That way the candle will have a secure place to stand and won’t fall over.
Before carving away on your masterpiece, it is a good idea to create the design first on a piece of paper. Once you have it the way you want it, tape the design onto the side of the pumpkin where it will look best. Then use a pushpin to transfer the design by pricking along the lines into the flesh of the pumpkin. This trick will also work if you decide to purchase any jack 0 lantern patterns.
Always begin carving from the center of the design and work outwards. The pumpkin will become weaker with each piece that you remove, and starting in the center keeps your pumpkin more stable as you go.
If you are using a candle for illumination, a white one inside a glass holder provides the brightest light. After lighting the candle, insert it into the jack o lantern, then wait about a minute. Remove the lid and find the soot mark where the smoke from the candle is trying to escape. Carve a hole in this place to let out the smoke and heat and your Halloween jack-o’-lantern will last longer.
Or you could use an electric candle (like this one) which is safer and doesn’t create heat which can soften jack-o-lanterns.
If you want your jack o lantern to really last a long time, try one of these tips:
Put on some rubber gloves and coat the cut surfaces with Petroleum jelly. This will form a protective barrier to seal the moisture inside the pumpkin.
Let your jack o lantern sit in a bucket of water overnight. Add a few tablespoons of bleach to discourage the bacteria that leads to mold and rot.
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