Pumpkin harvest won’t set records, but there will be plenty to go around
James Ashman (right) helps his grandfather pick out pumpkins for decoration. Wildcats should take time to carve pumpkins this weekend. (Huy Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

Halloween is nearly here, and pumpkin carving should be an activity that every Wildcat considers this weekend. While carving pumpkins might seem like an easy endeavor, here are a few tips to make sure your pumpkin carving experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Preparation

Before you even start carving your pumpkin, make sure you have a good place to carve and a good way to get rid of carving scraps. As much as is possible, I suggest de-gutting pumpkins outside on a plastic drop cloth. Drop cloths are available at hardware stores or can be made by taking a plastic garbage bag and cutting open two sides of the bag. Once the stringy, sticky innards have been removed, move inside to actually carve the pumpkin.

The reason behind this is to minimize mess and maximize accuracy. Carving pumpkins, while super fun and a fantastic opportunity to make memories with friends and family, can be a mess of epic proportions. By moving the mess outside and the carving inside, there’s less chance of ruining precious furnishings or making a carving mistake.

Picking out the perfect pumpkin

Sure, there are pumpkins available at grocery stores, but some on my favorite childhood memories come from picking pumpkins out of a farmer’s patch. While pumpkin patches can be hard to find in downtown Ogden, they can be found out in suburban and farming areas.

My family and I take a drive up U.S. Highway 89 towards Brigham City to find our pumpkins. For many years farmers and local growers have set up shops and stands along Highway 89 to sell local, fresh produce. Taking the drive up the highway gives pumpkin seekers time to talk as well as enjoy delicious local fruits and veggies.

Equipment

While you can buy the fancy, and often expensive, pumpkin-carving kits from grocery and craft stores, all the tools necessary for pumpkin disembowelment are in the average kitchen. Soup ladles and other large, spoon-shaped kitchen tools are ideal for removing pumpkin seeds and guts. Big mixing bowls are ideal for holding pumpkin guts and carved-away sections. With a mixing bowl next to the side of your pumpkin, you won’t need to balance your pumpkin over a garbage to avoid getting guts and pieces everywhere.

Have a dull steak knife? That’s ideal for carving out designs and decorations in pumpkins. Just make sure the knife used for carving isn’t too sharp. The loss of a fingertip could really put a damper on the pumpkin-carving experience.

Picking and carving a design

While free-handing a pumpkin carving can be exciting, it could spell disaster. Craft and grocery stores offer many books full of pumpkin-carving stencils and patterns, often with a hefty price tag. Thanks to the internet, students can get the same stencils for a fraction of the cost, or even free!

Pinterest has a plethora of free stencil ideas. While free is great, I’m not a fan of sifting through endless links hoping to find a stencil I like. So sites like zombiepumpkins.com are perfect for me. Categorized by level of difficulty and type, it’s easy to find the right type of pattern for any pumpkin. Zombiepumpkins.com also has tutorials and suggestions for making pumpkin carving an even better experience. In spite of a small registration fee, students receive more patterns and stencils from zombiepumpkins.com than they would from craft or grocery store pattern books.

 

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