Right Gourd For The Job

Local Pumpkin Growers Offer Best Carving Tips For Halloween

Local farmers and produce dealers have offered tips on carving the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Often, experts say pumpkins with the most unique shapes make the some of the best creations. P-J photos by William Mohan

Fall has arrived, and that means Halloween and all its fun is coming

However, nothing says Halloween like a carved pumpkin. To that end, some local farmers and produce dealers provided The Post-Journal with tips for a successfully-carved and beautiful-looking gourd.

The time when the carving takes place decides how well a pumpkin will look. The fresher the pumpkins the better, most growers agree.

Ashley Willebrandt of Harvest View Greenhouses in Fredonia suggests picking a pumpkin that is sturdy in structure. She said the pumpkin should also have a stem that enables lifting it. This will ensure that once the carving is complete, it will be stable as long as it is to be displayed. This may be difficult depending on how well pumpkin crops have fared in the planting and growing seasons.

However, the result will be worth the effort.

Several pumpkins pictured at Pumpkintown in Busti. Several local growers say carving your gourd a week before Halloween will lead to best results.

“The greener the stem of the pumpkin the fresher your finished carving will be,” Willebrandt said. In addition, weight ensures the structure of the carving will last. “The heavier a pumpkin the better the cariving.”

“A pumpkin that has a flat front is best,” added Sue Abers of Abers Acres in Kennedy.

The earlier in the month the pumpkin is carved the sooner it will begin to rot and become unsightly. Abers offered a timing suggestion: “If you want the carving to last up to and during Halloween, it is best to carve about a week before,” Abers said.

“I carve three to four days before Halloween if you want it around then,” added Willebrandt.

For those who choose to carve exotically or want to think outside the box, the best advice is to pick the most unusual gourds.

“Some of the most awkwardly shaped pumpkins make for the most unique carvings,” Willebrandt said.

No matter how the carving is done, one should work patiently and diligently.

Next, it is important to find the right tools to cut, empty, and carve the pumpkin. At the same time, it is important to make sure anything can be placed inside. Safety is especially key and in particular with children.

Fortunately there are tools available that meet both requirements. Common household items will work, but for the best results specialty knives and tools are recommended.

“I would recommend serrated knives that are specially designed with pumpkins in mind,” said Noreen Anderson of Anderson’s Produce, who admits she likes using serrated knives around children because the potential for injury is more minimal.

However, for greater flexibility, particular produce knives are best.

“I recommend a paring knife, lemon zester, Xacto knives and clay sculpting tools,” Willebrandt said.

For those who want different designs not offered by knives, Anderson recommended templates that cut a specific pattern or shape.

And when the carving is finished, there are options available to light its inside.

“I enjoy using Christmas lights, and I used to have my grandson place them in the trees I could not reach,” Anderson said.