Pumpkin carving tips and Jack lantern
Pumpkin carving is an art and takes fullest expression during Halloween. Jack lanterns carved out of this vegetable are the centre of attention in any Halloween party or decoration. Making a lantern or a mask out of a pumpkin requires craftsmanship and experience. Carving a pumpkin takes patience and technique. Certain tips could make your task easier.
*A pumpkin that is to be carved must not be eaten. For lanterns it is better to procure large pumpkins. In fact, larger the vegetable, easier would be the carving and better would be its patterns. Pumpkins with smooth and lighter peel should be chosen. Pumpkins with spoilt, mouldy or rotten stems should be avoided as they stale faster and makes carving difficult. Pumpkins with softer and lighter peels are always easier to design.
*For cutting the top, the knife must always be placed at an angle, say 45 degree, and not vertically. If cut vertically, the top would pass through completely and cannot be used as a lid.
*For scooping, an ice cream scoop or heavy metal spoon could be used. The seeds could be cleaned and stored as they make an excellent snack when roasted. Scooping should be such that the wall is about 1-1 ¼ inch thick. The interior should be made as smooth as possible as that would allow better reflection of light.
*After scooping, the pumpkin should be submerged in bleach water solution for a couple of hours. 1 teaspoon of bleaching powder for every gallon of water should be used. After submerging, it should be cleaned properly and dried. Cut edges should be smeared with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to prevent shrivelling. If shrivelling is observed then the process of submerging should be repeated.
*Draw the pattern to be carved on a piece of paper. Then, using a sharp knife cut the areas that are to be carved on to the pumpkin. After taping the paper template on to the pumpkin, mark the areas that are needed to be cut. A pumpkin carving or serrated knife could be used for this purpose. For making the pumpkin stable it is advisable to cut the bottom.
*A fire proof base should be placed comfortably so that a lighted candle does not topple. Remove the lid and place the candle. Light it during party time. Now-a-days batteruy operated electric candles are preferred.