Not to fear! Read on for our handy guide to carving pumpkins, and some special ideas to get your creative juices flowing...
ESSENTIAL PUMPKIN CARVING KIT
- A sharp knife for cutting.
- A large spoon or ice cream scoop for hollowing out the insides.
- Paper/cellotape, if you're using a stencil.
- A small sharp object like an ice pick or nail, to help you draw on your stencil, or a marker pen if you want to design your own.
Step 1 Choose your pumpkin!
The pumpkin should be decently sized, and rounded, for easy carving. Tiny, or mishapen pumpkins will be a devil to carve. Check the condition of your pumpkin - it should be fresh, and without blemishes, to ensure it lasts.
Step 2 Make the first cut!
Cut off the top with a sharp knife: a serrated blade tends to work best. Make sure that the crown is wide enough, so you can scrape out the insides easily.
Step 3 Hollow that pumpkin
Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to get rid of all that pulpy, seedy mess, but also try and scrape away some of the walls' flesh as well – ideally you want to thin the walls so they're just an inch or so thick. This makes carving easier and more light will shine through the surface.
Step 4 Choose and mark your design
Don’t start carving free-style – use a marker pen to draw your design onto the pumpkin first. If you want your lantern to look really professional, draw a paper template, then tape it onto the pumpkin. (You can also download templates online). Then use a sharp pointed tool, like an ice pick or nail, to poke holes around the design so the paper can be removed.
Step 5 Start carving
Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut out your design, starting at the centre and working outwards. Sawing in short, back and forth movements is easy to control than slicing.
Step 6 Preserve your pumpkin
Now rub some vaseline or a little diluted lemon juice on exposed parts of the pumpkin. This will stop the areas turning brown.
Step 7 Let there be light!
Finally, it’s time for lights. If you're using a candle, it’s best to put it in a small glass. Make sure you don’t put your lid on completely, so smoke can escape (alternatively, cut a “smoke hole” round the back where nobody will see it). Fairy lights and battery operated candles also work well. pumpkin
Tips and tricks
Put down some newspaper or an old cloth on your table before you start - carving is a messy business.
If you’re a beginner, don’t be over-ambitious – a simple, bold shape is easiest to do and still looks impressive. Straight lines are simpler to carve, so think about replacing circles with triangles, etc.
If your pumpkin’s a little unsteady, why not saw off the bottom as well as the top?
If you don't like the smell of your pumpkin, sprinkle some cinnamon on the underside of the lid. Some people claim this makes it last longer too.
To preserve its life, keep your lantern in the fridge when you’re out of the house.
Now for the fun part....choosing your designs. We have chosen the best of the internet, to help inspire your pumpkin creations.
How are you going to carve your pumpkin this Hallowe'en? Tweet us with pics @office_fruit