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24 Tips for Carving and Keeping the Perfect Pumpkin

The Pumpkin we carved Ready to Carve the Perfect Pumpkin.
If you haven't picked your Pumpkin yet check out Weekend Planner - Special Fall Edition (were we listed places to pick the perfect Pumpkin by county) .
If you already have your Pumpkin you are probably eager to start Carving, but before you jump into it; Read these tips to help you make and keep the perfect Jack-o-Lantern

Tips for picking out a pumpkin to carve
1) When choosing your pumpkin, look for one that is without bruises, is evenly colored, and isn’t
moldy or rotten. Check the bottom for rot and tap gently to hear a firm, hollow sound.
2) Pick a pumpkin that best suits your intended pattern/design, or vice versa.
3) The lighter the pumpkin’s skin, the softer the pumpkin will be, thus the easier to carve. However, lighter-skinned pumpkins may not last as long post carving.
4) Choose a pumpkin with a smooth, flat face, with shallow ridges and few of them.
5) Never carry your pumpkin by the stem.

Prepping a pumpkin
6) Wash and dry the pumpkin.
7) Cut the Top Off - Don't try to cut a perfectly round top. Chances are, you won't be able to figure out where it lines up, and it will probably just fall in! Instead, draw a six-sided lid (hexagon) on top of your pumpkin.
8) Scoop out the guts.
To roast your pumpkin seeds, do not wash them first! Washing removes all the natural flavor. Instead, remove the seeds from the strings and place a single layer on a cookie sheet. Add salt to taste and bake at 300° until dry, stirring occasionally.
9) Scrape the inside flesh clean and smooth until it’s approximately one-inch thick.
10) Transfer your pattern onto the chosen side or draw your pattern directly onto the pumpkin.

Carving the Pumpkin
11) Think about the cut before you begin
12) Start in the middle (i.e. nose) and work your way out (this helps keep the pumpkin structurally sound).
13) Leave large areas to cut out for last (same reason as above), and cut them into smaller pieces for easier removal.
14) Keep all cut edges parallel.
15) Hold cutting tool perpendicular to the surface.
16) Cut with gentle, steady sawing motions.
17) Point the cutting tool towards the pumpkin’s center.
18) Resist the urge to poke the cut out into the pumpkin. Instead, push it out towards you from the inside.
19) On corners or if changing directions, remove the carving tool then reinsert it in the new direction.
20) When complete, put a candle in the pumpkin, turn out the lights, and fine tune as needed.

21) To fix broken areas, or to repair areas accidentally cut off during the carving process, use toothpicks, pins, or staples to re affix. If needed, patch a broken area with a scrap of pumpkin flesh.
22) To prevent shriveling or dehydration, coat all cut areas with petroleum jelly or commercially available pumpkin preservatives. Keep the pumpkin wrapped in plastic in a cool location when not in use.
23) To rehydrate a shriveled pumpkin, soak in a tub of water overnight. Dry before putting back on display. To prevent mold growth, soak in a solution of water with 10% bleach. Dry before putting back on display.
24) To deter animals from eating pumpkins, spray the pumpkins with commercially available hinders, garlic spray, or hot pepper.

Free Patterns and more Tips:

The History of the Jack-O-Lantern:

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