Friday, October 28, 2011

Carving the Perfect Pumpkin

Be prepared for a mess! Newspaper important!
Carving a jack O' lantern for Halloween is the norm in the USA but in Germany it is much less common. You have to look around if you want to find a proper pumpkin for carving which is big enough to carve a true face or picture on.

As an American, she said that Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without carving a pumpkin and as a German, he had never had the experience before and was all for giving it a try. After trying four different grocery stores we finally found proper pumpkins at a vegetable stand.  We took them home and he got taught the fine art of creating a jack O' lantern.

Easiest way to carve

To carve a pumpkin you really only need the pumpkin, a spoon and a good serrated knife (like a steak knife). If you want to be a little more fancy we recommend you either use paper and a push pin or buy a pumpkin carving kit.

Don't make a perfect circle!
Start by cutting a hole in the top of your pumpkin. Go around the stem and make it wide enough that you will be able to get your hand inside. It is very important to cut at an inward angle! If you do not do this (and you cut straight up and down) your top will fall into the pumpkin when you put it back on at the end. It is also smart to not make it a complete circle but instead add a jagged section somewhere. This way you know which way the top fits back on. Once the top is off cut any remaining stringy parts on the top so that it is flat and clean.

Save the seeds to bake later!

After making a hole in top, start to remove the insides of the pumpkin. We suggest you keep the seeds and bake them as we did. You can read about how to best bake pumpkin seeds here.

Scoop out the inside
Take out the insides and use the spoon to scrape the inside of the pumpkin. You do not need to get everything out (you do not want to make the walls too thin and you will find yourself in a never ending battle) but you also do not want stringy pumpkin parts left inside. These will make your carving not look very nice and might catch on fire when you light your pumpkin.

Once the inside is cleaned out you can get ready to carve. It is up to you if you want to make your own picture or face by freehand or if you want a plan. We used an already made picture that came with our kit.If you do not have this you can print out a design from online or draw your own. Anything works! Haunted houses, cats, witches, words, bats, or clowns!
Pin on the outline

Poke the outline onto your pumpkin
Take your picture and tape or pin it onto your pumpkin. Then, use a push pin or other good poker to poke holes every few millimeters  until the entire outline of the picture is now on the pumpkin. If you make your own picture remember that pieces need to be connected to the rest of the pumpkin or you will end up with just one giant hole!

Carefully carve!

Start cutting the pumpkin, following the outline you made. If you will be cutting out a large section, sometimes it is better to cut it into smaller sections and push those sections out one by one.

Carve out each section of your pumpkin until your image is complete. Smooth out any edges which need it, light a tea candle to place inside and add the top you cut out in step one.
Place outside for you or your neighbors to enjoy! Depending on the weather of where you live the pumpkin should last between five days and a little over a week.

Happy Halloween everyone!!!


  1. You guys are seriously perfectionists!

  2. Haha Jaimie thanks. We don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing though... :)