Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin

Choosing the Perfect PumpkinAs someone who has carved more than 1,000 pumpkins over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at picking out which ones will make the best carvers. So here are a few tips for choosing the perfect pumpkin.


Texture is a very important part of choosing the perfect pumpkin, depending on how hard you want to carve and how long you want your pumpkin to last. The harder the pumpkin is, the longer your carving will stay nice, but harder pumpkins also take a lot longer to carve. If you’re doing a simple carving, like the traditional jack-o-lantern, a hard pumpkin is good a choice as it will hold up very well. If you’re doing something more complex, like say Hogwarts Castle from Harry Potter, you’re probably going to want a softer pumpkin. It may not last as long, but it will save you a lot of frustration and broken knives while carving an intricate pattern.

Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin - Hogwarts Castle

Hogwarts Castle

As a general rule, the darker the pumpkin is, the harder it is. The very dark, slightly brown-tinted orange pumpkins are usually the hardest, while the oranges that lean more toward the yellow hue will be softer and easier to cut (or as my siblings as I call them, “butter pumpkins”). You can run a test by knocking on the side the pumpkin. If it answers with a sharp knock-knock-knock, it’s probably on the harder side. Pumpkins on the softer side usually answer with foggier glug-glug-glug sound.


Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin - Sci-fi Spaceships

Sci-fi Spaceships

Size is of course an obvious factor when choosing the perfect pumpkin. Check it against your chosen pattern to ensure it will fit properly. (While you can just shrink or enlarge your pattern to fit your pumpkin, it’s often easier to fit your pumpkin to your pattern.) Generally the medium-sized, rounder ones are suitable for most pattern-book patterns. Also bear in mind the weight, as you’ll have to carry the pumpkins to carve and display them.


Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin - Jabba the Hutt

            Jabba the Hutt

When it comes to choosing the perfect pumpkin shape, people generally assume the traditional symmetrical round pumpkin is the best gourd for the job. While that is often true for many patterns, don’t overlook the creative possibilities of the odd-shaped pumpkins. One year we had a large, somewhat lopsided pumpkin. It was different than all the others so we wanted to do something very special with it. My dad said it sort of looked like Jabba the Hutt (from Star Wars) with the lopsided bottom and he was right. We made a Jabba pattern and it fit the shape of the pumpkin’s “body” perfectly.

No matter what sort of pumpkin you end up with when choosing the perfect pumpkin, the important thing to remember is to have fun! Happy carving 🙂

Just some of the different shaped and sized pumpkins my siblings and I have had fun carving over the years.

Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf

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