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Our guide to picking and carving the perfect pumkpkin this Halloween

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It’s a tradition that dates back to 19th Century Ireland but carving a pumpkin is still one of the most popular Halloween pastimes.

And with the spooky day just around the corner destinations across the country are gearing up to welcome families eager to pick the perfect pumpkin.

Pumpkin picking

Pumpkin picking

But what do you need to look for when visiting a local pumpkin patch so you can carve out a spectacular spooky offering to greet your trick or treaters?

You may be tempted to hunt for the biggest pumpkin in the patch but a medium sized one is going to be easier to carry and carve.

It’s also important to pick a ripe pumpkin with a hard shell and one that has a flat surface so it will stand up to straight.

Now you’ve picked the perfect specimen it’s all about transforming it with a ghoulishly good design.

Pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving

Preparation is key so lay down newspaper sheets to avoid mess and make sure you have a stencil or idea of your design before you start hacking away.

Once you have cut the lid off with a carving knife you can hollow out the insides, remembering to save the flesh for cooking some hearty soup later on.

Tape your design stencil onto the pumpkin and use a pen or sharp implement to draw before cutting.

It’s easier to carve straight lines rather than circles so an angular creation is the best method for beginners.

Finally sprinkle a little cinnamon on the underside of the lid to fill your home with a perfect autumn smell and make your pumpkin last longer.

Although many may believe pumpkin carving was a tradition conjured up in America their origin comes from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain.

Legend has it when Jack died, God refused him entry into heaven, and the Devil would not let him into hell, so he was doomed to roam the earth for all time.

In Ireland, people started to carve scary faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul.

When Irish immigrants moved to the America they began carving the lanterns from pumpkins instead as these were native to the region.