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How To Carve A Pumpkin

In one of our most recent posts, we took the time to explain some of Halloween’s historical origins with regards to pumpking carving and jack-o-lanterns. The long and short of the story is that we’ve adopted traditions of the ancient Celts, and later, the Irish. They used hollowed out turnips and gourds and carved them out to make faces on them, which would supposedly help ward off unwelcome spirits roaming around during the night.

As time passed and most superstitions died out, squash carving became less practical and more fun. When the Irish and other European settlers came over to North America, they were introduced to the ideal squash for pumpkin carving. With our snazzy new oversized gourds, we Americans have taken the fun parts of carving and ran with them.

Pumpkin carving is now one of the exciting parts about this time of year, and is a great reason to come on out to Bengtson’s Pumpkin Fest near Chicago. We’ve got an Illinois pumpkin patch like you wouldn’t believe, plus so much more, like carnival food, amazing food trucks, tons of rides, shows, and other attractions, and so much more. We’ve been open for 37 years here at our pumpkin farm in Homer Glen, and we would love for you to come visit us this year. We are open from 9/15 to 10/30 this year, and we are set for our biggest expansion yet! But before we get carried away, we have some pumpkin carving tutorials and ideas to talk about. Let’s get going!

Pumpkin Carving!

The very first step is to get a pumpkin for carving and pumpkin carving supplies. As obvious as those points might be, getting all of those items in one place isn’t as straightforward of a thought. Luckily for our readers, you can get the pumpkins and the pumpkin carving supplies all at the same place, yep, Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm! You want to find a pumpkin that will work with the design you have in mind. A good rule of thumb for any design is to find a pumpkin that is round, smooth, and will sit upright on its own. Keep in mind we also have pumpkins for pie-making as well, in addition to an assortment of other colors and sizes! Below you will find a list of essential pumpkin carving equipment, most of, if not all, you’ll be able to find for a great price at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Fest.

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Candle
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Masking Tape
  • Pumpkin Carving Tools
  • Tracing Paper (Or Tissue Paper)
  • Push Pins

Step By Step

  • Wipe down your pumpkin with a damp cloth and let it dry.
  • The next step is to chop off the crown of the pumpkin with a serrated, sharp knife.  
  • Scoop the seeds, and the rest of the innards, out with a big serving spoon. Then using the same spoon you can scrape out some of the inner wall of the pumpkin. You’ll want to do this until the wall of the pumpkin is roughly 1 inch thick.
  • Take your handy pen, and draw an outline of your design. If you are feeling traditional, go for the classic face! Most people use two upside-down triangles for eyes, an upright triangle for the nose, and then a sort of squiggly looking pattern for the mouth. You can probably find examples elsewhere of how to do different kinds of smiles.
  • If you are stenciling a pattern into a pumpkin, that process can actually be a lot more complicated than most novices realize. You’ll need to tape the pattern to the pumpkin. Then use your trusty pushpin we mentioned you’d need and push through the design lines about an eighth of an inch apart. Remove the paper, and then connect the dots using a pen or pencil. When you are cutting out tricky designs, hold the pumpkin in your lap while you hold your pairing knife at a ninety degree angle to the pumpkin.
  • When using your small serrated knife to cut out the in the pattern that you’ve traced, make sure to always cut away from you. Adults should be the ones doing the actual cutting, in most every circumstance. Oh, and the next step is to cut out your pattern.
  • If you are carving out a lid, angle your blade so that the lid can sit and stay on the ledge of the pumpkin.
  • If you happen to cut out a chunk you didn’t want to carve, it’s no big deal! Just reattach the piece with toothpicks, and nobody will be the wiser.
  • Remember that petroleum jelly we told you would need? The time is now. Apply a bit to all exposed parts of the pumpkin which you cut in order to keep the pumpkin looking fresh!
  • Grab that candle, or a tea light if you want to have it illuminated while you are gone, and place it inside the pumpkin. If you are going to use a candle, a good idea is to secure it to the base of the pumpkin with hot wax and a base of aluminum foil. And if you start to notice a blackening on the lid of your pumpkin from the smoke, all you need to do is cut out a little chimney, and the problem should be solved!

Other Tips For Carving

  • Knives are sharp and need to be used with care. Always make sure an adult is around when carving a pumpkin.
  • When carving out your face, use stark, bold features to help it be more distinct.
  • We’ve been in this business a while, and with that comes some wisdom. If you are looking for a great shortcut, carve out the bottom of the pumpkin instead of the top. This ensures the pumpkin sits up straight, and makes the entire process of removing the seeds much more simple.
  • Don’t carry a pumpkin by its stem. It might fall off and smash the pumpkin.
  • You don’t have to simply toss the seeds! They can be really, really good if you know what you are doing. All you have to is roast them with oil and salt to make a delicious treat. But feel free to add your favorite spices, like paprika, cayenne, or a blend of cajun spices, to make them pop even more.  

Come Visit Us At Our Illinois Pumpkin Patch!

We’ve got so many pumpkins, you won’t know what to do with yourself, besides hopefully pick some up so the whole family can enjoy a great tradition. When you stop by to pick up your pumpkin, why not make a day of it? It’s a short trip from Chicago, we’ve got incredible food and exciting activities the whole family can enjoy, like pony rides, a great petting zoo, and more! Check out our calendar and rates so you can schedule your trip to (basically) Chicago’s finest pumpkin patch!