Well it’s finally here – Halloween, the (purportedly) spookiest time of the year. Our team really got into the seasonal spirit and decided to host a pumpkin carving competition. Since two of us were newbies to the carving game, we thought we’d share some tips and tricks that we stumbled upon along the way.

Here are the lucky few:assortment of white nad orange pumpkins in varying sizes

It’s always a good idea to find pumpkins in a variety of sizes unless you have a firm idea of what you want to carve. We picked these up from a local farm near Fergus, Ontario but they can be found at local grocery stores everywhere around this time of year.

Cleaning out the guts:female hands scooping out insides of pumpkin with spoon into stainless bowl

While one of us prepared for this new experience by watching a How-To Youtube video, you don’t need to go to the same extent. After all, we’re just opening up the pumpkin and clearing out its seeds and flesh. That being said, it certainly does help to have the right tools on hand. We used a small serrated (but sharp!) kitchen knife to slowly cut out the top of the pumpkin and then a large metal spoon to scrape out the insides.

While some online guides recommend that you use a keyhole saw, the kitchen knife worked well enough for us. One trick that we learned along the way is to use the knife to cut through and clear the stringy flesh at the top of the pumpkin, near the opening. This is because it takes a bit of effort to scrape the flesh with a spoon, while cutting through it is so much easier. Sadly because of the shape of the pumpkin, you can only angle the knife properly to get at the flesh up-top.

Carving the pumpkin:female’s hands carving a pumpkin with knife

Now begins the fun part! Draw out your design on the pumpkin and start hacking away. Some wisdom we picked up along the way:

  • The pumpkin is more fragile than you think, even with a thick wall, so plan your design appropriately. If this is your first time carving a pumpkin, don’t be too ambitious. Save your masterpiece for the second pumpkin you carve.
  • Knives with narrower blades will come in handy for detailed carving, so make sure you have a variety of knife sizes available.
  • A few of us drew on our designs with Sharpie markers. While this was helpful during the carving stage, we had a heck of a time removing the marks afterwards. Learn from our mistake and make sure you have some nail polish remover or isopropyl alcohol on hand.
  • Save those seeds! They taste great toasted with a little seasoning. Our chef prefers to flavour them with soy sauce, paprika and liquid smoke 👅

The results:Medium size pumpkin with a carving of a cherry and its stem

Large pumpkin with a carving of a traditional jack-o-latern face

Medium size pumpkin with a carving of two ice cream cones

Large pumpkin with a carving of a spider web and spider

Five jack-o-lanterns with candle lights saying Happy Halloween!

We hope you found this guide helpful! If you’d like to weigh in on which one of these pumpkins turned out the best, feel free to vote on our Instagram post here. We’ll draw a random winner from the comments tomorrow, who will receive a brand spankin’ new gift card to use at any of our restaurants 🙂

Have a happy and safe Halloween everyone!

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