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Halloween Lanterns or Jack-O’-Lanterns are popular at Halloween. Traditionally, turnips were carved and placed in windows to ward off evil spirits and ghouls. These days, pumpkins are much more common, being that Halloween has become such a celebrated tradition in the USA where this native fruit is typically used for carving.

Pumpkin Lanterns
How to Carve a Halloween Lantern

You can buy carving kits from supermarkets and budget stores at this time of year, which contain tools for the job. These only cost a couple of pounds and often come with a template to trace. If you can’t get hold of a carving kit, you will need a little saw, a ‘pointer,’ so that you can trace a pattern across the pumpkin, and something that allows you to bore holes into areas which are too small to twist a knife. You’ll also need a larger knife for removing the lid, a felt-tip pen for marking out your design, a spoon for scraping and your hands for scooping. As this process involves sharp knives, adults should closely supervise children.

Choose a firm pumpkin with at least one smooth, blemish-free surface. Start by removing the lid. Draw a square or hexagon around the top of the pumpkin, about 5cm away from the stalk. Using a sharp knife, stab along these lines into the flesh (remembering to keep the blade facing away from you).
Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and flesh.

Find the flattest ‘face’ of the pumpkin and sketch out your design onto the skin. Alternatively, tape a template onto the surface and punch out dotted lines using a pointer. The more holes you make when using a pointer, the better you will be able to see your design when you remove the template and begin to carve.

Using your saw, cut along the lines through the flesh and into the pumpkin. You can then punch out the pieces quite easily.

At this stage, you may want to carefully trim the skin over your design, which will make it stand out more clearly. This is completely optional, however.

Carefully light and place a tealight candle inside your pumpkin and replace the lid. Spooky!

If you want to make your pumpkin last without going mouldy or soggy, make a solution of ½ tsp bleach to 250ml water and, using a spray bottle, spray this all over the pumpkin. Leave for 20 mins. Then, rub all cut surfaces with petroleum jelly and wipe away the excess.

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