How to Cut the Top of a Pumpkin

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Jack-O-Lanterns are a classic Halloween decoration. Learn how cut the top off of your pumpkin with expert tips on how to carve a Halloween pumpkin in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: How to Carve a Halloween Pumpkin
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Video Transcript

I'm here to talk to you about cutting off the top of your pumpkin. So first you have to decide if your pumpkin can stand on its own. If the bottom is reasonably flat like this one is, it'll have no trouble standing on its own. But if you have a pumpkin that sorts of kilts and rocks back and forth, it might actually be better to cut off the bottom instead of the top. But in this case I'm going to be cutting off the top. So first, using a marker, I prefer using dry erase markers because I can easily wipe it off afterwards. You want to draw some sort of polygon, it might be tempting to draw a circle around the top, but it's much, much difficult to cut a circle than it is to cut angles. So, right around the top, a few inches away from the stem draw a few straight lines and this would be your guide for cutting. It doesn't have to be perfect. Once you have your lines marked, put the pumpkin into a bowl or a pot such as this one. This prevents it from rolling around while you're trying to carve the top. Then take your larger knife and begin cutting. You want to cut towards the middle, because if the bottom is narrower than the top, the lid won't fall in. Now you should expect the skin of the pumpkin to be pretty tough to get through, so just be patient, don't press too hard because you don't want to end up cutting yourself and also don't expect to cut exactly on the lines. Once you've gone directly along the edges, you can pull the lid up, put it back in for a second, take out your sponge and wipe off the lines. Once you've cleaned off the lines, it's time to pull off the top, set it down on the table and cut off the strings and seeds a little bit into the pumpkin itself so that you have about an inch and a half up here. Then what you need to do is cut a chimney, which is basically a little notch that allows steam to rise out of the pumpkin. If you don't do this, your pumpkin is going to cook from the inside out and it won't last very long. So one thing you can do is just cut off one of the edges and then just make a little triangle. So, when you put the top back on, it should look something like that, you have a little space there.

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