Making your perfect Jack-O-Lantern

Are you ready for a fang-tastic time this Halloween? Are you having a party or do you plan to fill yourself up on pumpkin soups and treats after fun filled day of carving Jack-O-Lanterns?
At 35 years, I must confess, I’ve never carved a pumpkin before and something that’s so simple yet fun had me excited to get my hands dirty and make my own lanterns. This year I decided that I would carve a pumpkin, and it was amazing to find out how creative you can be. With all these fun and spooky templates easily available on the internet, all you have to do is print one off and carve it on to the pumpkin.
Jack-O-Lanterns are not only great decoration for the house or backyard, you get to have a lantern as well as make loads of delicious pumpkin soup – ticks all right spook-tober boxes. So here’s a little guide for when it comes to carving your perfect pumpkin.

Step 1
The traditional scary face is very straight forward to carve and you don’t really need a template. Cut a lid in the top of the pumpkin around the stem so that you can scoop out the insides. A good rule of thumb is that the lid should be about two thirds the diameter of the pumpkin.
Take a sharp, long knife and whilst holding it at an angle, cut a circular or hexagonal shaped lid. Children must have parent supervision when handling the sharp tools. Holding the knife at an angle when making the cut will help ensure the lid does not fall in to the empty pumpkin. Using a large spoon, scoop out the pulp and seeds. To finish off, gently scrap the insides and the base clean till the pumpkin feel almost dry to the touch.

Step 2
Put the pumpkin on a table and look around it to decide which side you want to carve on to. Using a fine permanent mark, draw on the face, and using a sharp knife with a firm, short blade, carefully follow your guiding lines. Once all the cuts have been made, remove the pieces by gently pushing them from the inside out. For more complicated patterns try using a stencil pinned to the pumpkin, which I mentioned earlier, by printing one from the internet. By sticking the paper onto the side of the pumpkin, prick holes to create an outline for the image. Then remove the paper and join the dotted marks to create your outline.

Step 3
In the inside of the pumpkin place a tea light at the base. White candles will make the lantern glow most effectively, although for a spookier effect, you can put the candle in a coloured glass holder to change the colour of the light.
Picking your pumpkin, rule one is to buy a pumpkin of good size. Even though the little ones look quite cute, you won’t get much carving use out of them. Larger pumpkins give you more area to work with and create a much brighter and spookier effect.
A good average sized pumpkin perfect for carving is on that is 30-40 cm tall with a well-rounded shape. When selecting your perfect lantern-to-be, check for damage and bruising and reject any ones with damage as they might be prone to rotting quickly.
With the pulp and seeds left from the insides of the pumpkin, don’t throw them away! make pumpkin soup by adding yoghurt, salt and pepper to the pulp and blend making the perfect Halloween night treat, for a healthier option, you can also choose to make a salad or other healthy treats. Most importantly, remember to have a good time, involve the family and have a spook-tastic Halloween!
Happy Carving!

Sayeh Woodman