Stonehenge NYC Jack O' Lantern Fun!
October 6th, 2018
New Yorkers love Halloween, but in the big city in can sometimes be hard to keep up with traditional holiday fun. Carving a Jack O’ Lantern is something that many city folks just don’t bother with. It’s too messy. You probably don’t have a porch to put it on. Where do you even buy a pumpkin? If you’ve never carved a pumpkin before you can rest easy. It's way easier than you think. So easy, in fact, that we’re confident once you’ve read this blog post you’ll be able to call yourself a Jack O’ Lantern expert. Carving a pumpkin is a great activity for families of all shapes and sizes. Let’s get started! Picking the Right Pumpkin: In NYC, you can’t just jump on the subway and travel to a quaint country farm to pick out a pumpkin with the family. That’s just the price you pay for living in the middle of it all. Still, finding a pumpkin isn’t as hard as you might think. Most florists have seasonal pumpkin selections, and you can even find them at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Be sure to pick a pumpkin that appears to be healthy. Most pumpkins will have some blemishes on them, and that’s totally fine. There just needs to be enough smooth, healthy skin for you to comfortably carve on. You can knock on the pumpkin to determine it’s ripeness. If it has a ‘hollow” sound when you give it a thump, that means it’s ripe. If you’re planning to use it’s insides for cooking, that’s great. If you’re only interested in carving it, you might want to pick something a little less ripe. It’ll last longer that way. Use the Right Tools: The key to safely, easily carving a pumpkin lies in the tools you use. You can pick up a handy Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit on Amazon for a very reasonable price. But you'll be just as safe using kitchen tools you already have. A big spoon, a large kitchen knife, and a medium sized knife, and a dry erase marker are all you really need. Just make sure that your knives are super duper sharp. A dull knife increases the amount of elbow grease you need to put into the carving, and can lead to slipping and injuring yourself. Prep Your Workspace: Carving a pumpkin is an inherently messy undertaking, but you can mitigate that by preparing your workspace beforehand. Cover your table or counter top with old newspapers, and have a large mixing bowl or trash can nearby to throw the guts in. This will make the eventual cleanup a cinch! Opening It Up: The next step is removing the stem of the pumpkin. Using your medium sized knife, cut a circle around the stem. Be very careful to keep the knife at a 45 degree angle. This will prevent the stem from falling into the pumpkin once it’s carved. As you pull the stem free, some of the pumpkins guts will probably come with it. Use your knife the cut that stuff off and discard it. Evisceration: Now it’s time to gut your pumpkin. First, use your large kitchen knife to loosen the orange, stringy guts from the inner walls of the pumpkin. This part is pretty easy and just involves a lot of random cutting and stabbing of the insides. That will loosen everything up. You’ll notice that a whole bunch of pumpkin seeds will come along with it. We recommend using your hands at this stage. Feel free to lay the pumpkin on its side if that makes removing the guts easier. Once you’ve removed the lion’s share of the viscera, you can use your spoon to scrape out the rest. Try to get the pumpkin walls as clean as possible. Draw Twice, Cut Once: Now it’s time to give your pumpkin it’s face. Before you start cutting, it’s important to practice your design. Use a dry-erase marker to sketch out your design before you start cutting. There are lots of tried and true Jack O’ Lantern face designs, but feel free to get creative and weird with it. Be sure that you’re happy with your Jack O’ Lantern face before you start cutting. Use a medium sized knife or smaller to slowly, carefully carve out your design. It’s not a race, and rushing will lead to an ugly Jack O’ Lantern or an ugly injury. Light Him Up: Once you’re done carving, it’s time to light your Jack O’ Lantern up! A tiny tealight candle will do the job nicely. For a safer, easier, option you can always use an electric one. It looks just as good but it’s way safer. Name Your Jack O’ Lantern: Your Jack O’ Lantern needs a name. Give it a name that he or she will be proud of like Jack Skellington, Pumpkin Polly, or Donald. Display Your Jack O’ Lantern: Now it’s time to find the perfect place to display your Jack O’ Lantern. Traditionally, the Jack O’ Lantern lives on your front porch, which is tricky in NYC. Still, you can display it on your balcony, window sill, or kitchen table.