How to carve your Halloween pumpkin

A friendly Halloween pumpkin ©Anders Lageras

If you are planning to design a pumpkin for Halloween this year, here are some carving tips to help you get the best finished result.

Choosing your pumpkin

Most pumpkins will be ideal for carving but the easiest to carve are large, evenly rounded and smooth skinned. You can check that your chosen pumpkin is ripe by tapping it and listening for a hollow sound. Once you get your pumpkin home wash the outside so no dirt remains and then you’re ready to start carving.

Removing the pumpkin lid

On a flat surface, draw a line using a black marker or an old biro pen around the stalk and then use a sharp knife to cut it out. Gently pull the stalk to lift the lid away from the pumpkin. You may need to use your knife to loosen any seeds and flesh still attached.

Hollowing out the middle of the pumpkin

Scrape away any remaining flesh or seeds from the bottom of the lid and then use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh and seeds until the inside of your pumpkin is evenly hollow. Make sure the base inside your pumpkin is flat so your candles or lights stand up securely.

Designing your pumpkin for Halloween

There are two methods you can use here depending on your level of skill.

  1. Use a pumpkin stencil – Draw your design onto a piece of paper and once your happy with the positioning, cut out the shapes and use tape to stick the cut out onto your pumpkin as a guide.
  2. Draw on your pumpkin – Use an old biro pen to simultaneously draw and press your design on to the pumpkin as a guide.

Once you’re happy with your design use a sharp knife and follow your guide to cut out the shapes piece by piece. If this is your first pumpkin carving try sticking to simple and large shapes to make it easier. Alternatively if you’re a more experienced carver you can find a spooky design online to print out and use as a guide.

Rack of pumpkins, Keene New Hampshire ©John Phelan
Rack of pumpkins, Keene New Hampshire ©John Phelan

How to illuminate your pumpkin

Tea light candles are normally placed inside pumpkins and can be lit using long cook’s matches. Alternatively you can place an LED light inside.

Once your lights are in position, place your stem lid back in the top of your pumpkin and enjoy.

Your pumpkin should last up to a week outside on your doorstep and balcony or inside your home.