As general contractors, Inspired Remodels knows a thing or two about designing and building great spaces. We understand physics and design. To celebrate Halloween, we’re putting that knowledge to practical use to help you select, design and carve the best pumpkin ever.
Start with the Right Structure
If you’re going to have the best Halloween Jack O’Lantern, you’ve got to start with the best pumpkin. Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbit family of plants. Their cousins are cucumbers, gourds and other squashes. The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon which means large melon. Why is this important? Because what we call “pumpkin” in the US is called winter squash elsewhere. And in the Caribbean they call the squash we know as “calabaza” pumpkin. By the way, did you know that most canned pumpkin is actually butternut squash? See, they can get away with it because pumpkin has no set botanical or scientific meaning.
For the purposes of carving your Jack O’Lantern, you’ll be faced with a choice of two types of pumpkins: hard and sugar. Sugar pumpkins are the small, cute white or orange pumpkins you see. They have a round shape. Sugar pumpkins are fleshy. They have a high sugar and pulp content. Sugar pumpkins make awesome pies. But, they are too fleshy for a good carving structure.
For carving, you want a pumpkin that is hard. The skin must be thin. You want stringy flesh. Autumn Gold and Hobbit are popular here on the West Coast. If you want a monster, find a Gold Rush.
Pick the Best Pumpkin
Now you’ve narrowed down the choices, here’s how to pick a pumpkin that will stand up to carving. As general contractors, we know that structure is important.
Get a hollow pumpkin. Pick the pumpkin up and tap it. It should sound hollow.
Get a flat bottom. If you want your carved creation to sit properly, you need a flat bottom. It’s easier to pick a pumpkin with a flat bottom than to level an uneven pumpkin later.
Get a fresh pumpkin. Inspect the pumpkin carefully to make sure it is fresh. Look for bad spots that indicate it is starting to rot. Touch the surface of the pumpkin. Feel for soft spots. Soft spots are a sign of a rotting pumpkin.
Get it home carefully. Always carry your pumpkin from the bottom. The stem is not a handle. Secure it in the trunk or back of your car so it does not roll. The floorboard is better than the seat.
The internet is loaded with templates and ideas for carving. Here’s a link with over 50 ideas for pumpkin designs. We’re not going to duplicate that information here. What we will do is give you some solid carving tips.
Scrape scrape and scrape again. This is the secret to a long lasting pumpkin. Make sure you get all the seeds, pulp, and flesh out of the pumpkin. When you think you have it scraped clean, scrape it again. There are claws to make this work easier. Spoons do it too.
Use the right tool. Make sure you use the right tool for the right cut. Small double edged saws are great for carving. Make your cuts straight, not on an angle. Angle cuts expose more surface area. More surface area means more area exposed to air. Air leads to rot. Cut straight!
Vent. No, this doesn’t mean complain about the work involved in scraping. You need a little chimney for your pumpkin. When you finish carving, light a candle, place it in the pumpkin, and set the lid on top. Let it burn for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove lid and blow out candle. The top of the lid should have a small black spot from the candle soot. Take an ice pick or awl and make a vent here.
Bonus tip. Now here’s a bonus tip. When you are through with your pumpkin carving, wipe the inside of the pumpkin with a paper towel. Then rub cinnamon, allspice or ginger on the inside. As the candle burns, it will release a warm, spicy aroma.
Inspiration from Inspired General Contractors
We hope this post has inspired you to get out and create the best carved pumpkin ever! Inspired Remodels is the home remodeling contractor that specializes in helping people turn ideas and inspired dreams into reality.
When you’re ready to remodel more than a pumpkin, give us a call at (949) 625-6820.