It’s Pumpkin Season! From Pumpkin Patches to spiced latte’s and all the pies in between, it’s time to celebrate fall with all thing’s orange!
Where there are pumpkins, there’s carving, and whether you’re gathering the family for a fun-filled evening or on your way to becoming the next Pumpkin Pablo Picasso, we’ve got a few tips that will help increase the longevity of your masterpiece.
Keep in mind, even though they’re often used as decorations, Pumpkins are still a fruit so it’s best to avoid soft spots and bugs like you would when picking any other produce.
The fresher the pumpkin the better – so how do you pick the freshest fruit in the patch? Look for a green stem. The greener the better. Also, consider the thickness of the stem and weight of the pumpkin – a big, thick stem is a good indication that the walls of the pumpkin will be thick making it ideal for carving.
Part of the fun is getting inspired to create unconventional designs! Don’t dismiss an oddly shaped pumpkin! It could make for an extra ghoulish carving.
Draw before you slice! Take a pen or marker and draw out your design before cleaning out the guts. This is a good step to practice weather your carving all the way through or just skinning the surface.
You can buy your pumpkin whenever you want; they should last a long time until you cut into them. When you do, remember you’re working with a perishable food item, as soon as you cut into it, it will start to decompose. Once carved they can last as little as three days or up to three weeks so it’s best to carve it 1-2 days before needed.
Pumpkins don’t oxidize as fast as an avocado would but if you leave it on the counter for a day you’ll begin to see a change in structure. Spraying the pumpkin with water while carving will help to keep it moist and workable.
While it can’t get much better than a traditional kids’ carving kit for scooping, experts suggest giving some unconventional carving tools a try to take your design to the next level. Paring knives, lemon zesters, rasps, exacto knives, saws, clay sculpting tools, even a linoleum cutter (usually used in printmaking) are great for different textures and intricate linework.
Not only does removing the top – or bottom – compromise the structural integrity of the pumpkin, it also cuts off the vine which supplies the fruit with nutrients and moisture. When you cut around it you’re severing the lifeline that’s keeping the pumpkin fresh and by cause reducing the life of your artwork. This year try cutting a hole in the back instead. This will keep the mess minimal and longevity high.
Remove all the guts! Leaving bits of goop inside is a big no-no. You want to make sure everything is cleaned out to prevent these areas from growing mold and it spreading to the walls. Scrape the walls really thin, removing every last stringy bit; they will appear drier and will take longer to break down.
Depending on how long you want your pumpkin to last you may want to consider using electric light instead of the traditional candle. LEDs will get really bright without giving off heat which can begin to cook your masterpiece! It may smell nice at the time, but if you want your pumpkin to last it should be kept as cool as possible.
When you’re not displaying your pumpkin try wrapping it in plastic and storing it in the fridge, or if it’s cool at night place it by a cool window or in a garage. The plastic will help the moisture stay in the pumpkin, prolonging its life.