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Video:How to Carve a Pumpkin

with Rachel Edelman

Carving pumpkins is a seasonal tradition in many families. Learn how to carve shapes into a pumpkin freehand or using a stencil.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Carve a Pumpkin

Hi, I'm Rachel Edelman, for About.com Food. Today I'm going to show you how to carve a pumpkin.

Choose a Pumpkin

If you can, it's fun to pick your own pumpkin at a pumpkin patch. You can also get a fresh pumpkin at a market or farm stand. Choose a pumpkin with a bright orange color that has no bruises, soft spots, scars or mold. The stem should be attached and be dried or slightly brittle.

Sit up the pumpkin on a flat surface to see what it will look like on your display. Until you are ready to carve, keep your pumpkin in a dry cool place.

Pumpkin Carving Utensils

In order to carve, you will need:
  • a long thin knife
  • an ice cream scoop
  • a poking tool
  • a saw knife
A beginner pumpkin carving kit will work fine, or you can get more professional tools at a hardware or craft store. If you are drawing freehand, you will need a crayon. If you want to use a template, have your drawing and tape ready.

Prepare the Pumpkin for Carving

First, put down newspaper. This will help with an easier clean-up. Now use the long knife to cut a large hexagon opening out the top of the pumpkin around the stem. As you cut, angle the knife so the piece removed will be cone shaped, this will prevent the top from sliding back into the pumpkin when you are done.

Remove the top and take out all the seeds with your ice cream scoop. You also may need to use your hands. If you want to put in a candle, be sure to scrape out a flat surface at the bottom.

Carving Pumpkins Freehand

Look all around the pumpkin and choose where you want to carve the face or the picture. If you are drawing freehand, take your crayon, and draw your picture. When you're happy with what your picture looks like, carefully cut along the lines. After you cut each piece gently push it out of the pumpkin.

Carving Pumpkins Using Stencils

You may want to use a picture or a drawing which is often referred to as a pumpkin template. Cut out the picture. Tape the picture onto the pumpkin. Use the poking tool to outline the picture on the pumpkin.

With one hand hold the picture steady against the pumpkin. With the other hand, poke the dots. These dots will act as a guide to help you cut out the pieces.

When you are done outlining the picture on the pumpkin, remove the paper and use the saw tool to cut along the dots. Gently cut along the dots for each piece. When you're done push out the pieces. With your knife, trim the sides of the picture to help the light come through cleanly.

Preserving Carved Pumpkins

Place your candle inside and display your pumpkin in a safe place. A cut pumpkin may last anywhere from 1 day to a week. Use a sealant such as petroleum jelly or a cooking oil to help lock in the moisture and prevent wrinkling.

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