Carving a pumpkin this Halloween? Here are seven tips and tricks from Shane Cooprider at the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton to make your pumpkin spooktacular:
1. All pumpkins are not created equal. When it comes to selection, consider texture as well as shape. Traditional jack-o-lanterns look best with deep ribs and a round shape, while tall pumpkins help add character and personality. If you're drawing or painting directly on the pumpkin, try to find one with smoother sides to showcase your design.
2. Plan your design. Use a grease pencil or marker to outline your design and wipe away any mistakes. Look online for ideas and stencils. Many templates are free of charge and easy to transfer onto a pumpkin.
3. Creative Carving Tools. When you're ready to carve, try a mix of tools. A knife is great for big cuts, but detail work requires finesse. Try push pins, paperclips, tweezers or even knitting needles for precision. (Martha Stewart loves her Dremel tool.)
4. Getting to the Guts. Here’s the fun part – scooping out the pulp! But where to hide the access hole? Many carvers cut a lid but the hole can be placed anywhere, top or bottom. Think about the display and whether you will use a light. Just be sure to keep the hole out of sight. Making a pie or collecting seeds? Remember to first have your bowls or containers ready.
5. Light your Pumpkin. Candles are traditional, but holiday lights add a colorful twist. Mix the size of the bulbs or have them blink. Just be sure the plug stays dry.
6. Is that pumpkin pie I smell? Sprinkle spices inside your pumpkin to fill the air with the aromas of the season. Try cinnamon, allspice or cardamom.
7. Make your Pumpkin Last. After carving, soaking the pumpkin in a mild solution of bleach and water will help slow the growth of mold and keep your pumpkin hydrated.