It’s finally the time of the year again when even the trees celebrate Hokie spirit, and maroon and orange sweep across the nation from tree to tree.
One of the most celebrated days on college campuses — other than Hokie football victories, of course — is right around the corner, and although we may be too old to trick-or-treat, there is still one timeless fall tradition that never gets old: pumpkin carving.
From classic jack o’ lanterns to intricate carvings of ghosts and witches, pumpkin carving is a great and entertaining way to spend an afternoon with friends. However, as simple as carving a pumpkin may sound, it takes time and diligence requiring several steps in order to be successful.
Step one consists of formulating a carving design and choosing a pumpkin. This is a crucial step in the process because the size and shape of the pumpkin must correspond to the design you are planning on carving.
Do you get a plump, round pumpkin or a taller, oval-shaped one? The choice is completely up to you and whatever you choose, make sure it suits what you need.
Some great places to purchase a pumpkin within the New River Valley area include Sinkland Farms in Christiansburg or local grocery stores like Kroger.
Step two requires gathering all of the necessary tools and materials. You must have a sharp knife that can cut through the thick skin of the pumpkin as well as several votive candles.
Choosing the carving location is also an important task. Pumpkin carving can get a bit messy, so it’s best to do it outside on a deck or patio. If neither of those are available, make sure to spread several layers of old newspapers on the floor. Make sure garbage bags and paper towels are readily available. Investing in some wet wipes would also be extremely beneficial.
Step three requires you to get a tad sticky and messy. First, cut a circle on the top of the pumpkin that is wide enough for you to reach both of your hands through.
Remove the stem end and scrape off any seeds or pulp that may be attached to it. You will use this as a cap so make sure you don’t dispose of it.
Now, if you’re not afraid to dive right in, use your hands to scoop out all of the seeds and pulp from inside of the pumpkin. If you can’t handle getting the gooey insides of a
pumpkin, use a large spoon to scrape everything out. Dump the seeds and pulp into a garbage bag or into a large bowl to save for special pumpkin recipes you may want to
Time to get creative. For step four, a great way to go about carving out a design is to first draw the pattern with a permanent marker. Avoid small features, because they tend be difficult to carve out.
For more intricate patterns, the outline is useful because it works as a guideline and makes the carving process a whole lot easier. Create any design you’d like. Stick with the traditional triangle eyes and nose with a zigzag mouth or try something more detailed like a witch or spider.
Step five is part you’ve all been waiting for: the actual carving. Using a sharp knife, carefully and diligently follow your pattern and cut all the way through the pumpkin. This
step takes the longest and you must have patience. As you go about carving, push the excess pumpkin out from inside of the pumpkin and throw away the pieces.
Finally, we have reached step six. When all is finished and the pumpkin is completely carved to suit your design, place a lit candle inside of the pumpkin. This adds the final touch creating the overall look, completing the carving process.
Pumpkin carving is a tradition that any age can enjoy. In between getting ahead on your homework and planning your Halloween costumes, put some time aside, gather your friends and neighbors, and take part in this enjoyable fall tradition.