It is finally October, which means that pumpkins are the centre of attention once more. People dig out their best pumpkin-related recipes and start browsing the interwebs for the spookiest character to carve for this Haloween. But pumpkins can be very tricky things to cut no matter if you are planning to cook or carve them. That is why we are here to help you out with a guide on how to cut pumpkins for both purposes.
Now, if you are planning on cooking your pumpkin, you will need a sharp sturdy knife, a tablespoon, paper towels or newspapers and a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to remove the skin (this can also be done with a sharp and thin knife).
Before you start, we would like to give you some tips that will help you make the process easier.
- Wash the pumpkin to remove dirt and grime off the surface, then pat dry to make the cutting process smooth.
- Use a very sharp chef’s knife that is tough enough to cut through the hard surface of the pumpkin.
- Cut the pumpkin in sections, which will be much easier than proceeding to the entire thing at once.
Once you’ve got the right tools and you have taken our tips into consideration, you can proceed to the following steps.
- Cut the pumpkin in half: This is very useful if you are going to bake the pumpkin or in any other coking case really. To start, you will need to put the pumpkin upright on a steady surface. Then put a paper towel underneath and hold the pumpkin sturdy with your hand while you cut with the other. Insert the knife and cut straight down toward the stem. Make sure to push firmly and work the knife through the flesh of the pumpkin until it is cut exactly in half.
- Remove the seeds: Here is when your metal tablespoon will come in handy. Before you start cooking, you will need to remove the seeds completely. It is not a hard task especially if your pumpkin is small in size. Use the spoon to scoop out the seeds, which you can lay to dry and have later. If you are roasting your pumpkin, seeds will be much easier to remove after you’ve done the roasting.
- Cut away the skin: If you’re making a dish such as a pumpkin soup, or risotto, cutting away the pumpkin skin is required, which is the fiddliest and toughest part. To do this, you will need to place your sharpest knife in-between the flesh and the skin so it glides through the skin without any effort. Another option to do this with is the Y-shaped vegetable peeler, but you won't need it if you have a thin and sharp knife.
- Cut: Once you have skinned the pumpkin and removed the seeds, slice it into wedges if it is a Queensland Blue, Kent or Dumpling pumpkin and thick slices if it is a Butternut pumpkin. Pumpkins tend to be very hard to cut due to their hardness but if you use the heel of your hand, it will provide weight to ensure the knife glides through the pumpkin while keeping your fingers safe. Make sure to cut similar pieces so they end up cooked at the same time.
Now that we know how to properly cut pumpkin for cooking, we can proceed to learn how to cut a Halloween pumpkin for carving. For this task, we will need any knife with a definite point, paper towels or newspapers, kitchen towel and a tablespoon.
But before we continue, here are some tips that you may find helpful:
- Use an extremely sharp knife to shorten the process and make it easier.
- Operate very slowly, and stabilize the pumpkin before you start.
- Choose a pumpkin with a green stem; that is how you know it’s fresh.
- Stabilize the pumpkin: Choose the smoothest working surface of your kitchen and spread out paper towels or newspapers. Lay out a kitchen towel and double it over and put the pumpkin on top of that. This will ensure that your pumpkin stays in place while you cut it.
- Cut the lid: This is where you need to pay attention more and do it smoothly since you are going to need your lid after you cut it out. Remember that you need your lid to sit on top of the pumpkin firmly and not fall in or stick out. Pick a point about 2-3 inches to one side of the stem, and insert your knife at about a 45-degree angle. Then push the knife until you've penetrated through the flesh of the pumpkin. Pull the knife back out, shift it to one side and push it back through. After that, cut around the stem in a circle slowly and very carefully. Then cut several straight lines to get a six-sided shape around the outside, or you can try to cut a simple smooth circle. Either way, you will have great results.
- Pull the lid out: Now that you have cut the lid, you will need to pull it out, which is not as easy as it sounds. You will need to grab the stem very firmly and pull it upward. If your pumpkin doesn’t have a stem, then you might need a small dull knife to dug the lid out without damaging the shape. There will be some strands attached to the lid, which you can easily cut off with a sharp chef’s knife.
- Scoop out the seeds: Just like cooking, carving a pumpkin can’t be done without removing the seeds. Get your metal tablespoon and start scooping and scraping it all out. Once your pumpkin is clean and empty, you can proceed to curve.
In conclusion: No cutting task is hard once you’ve got the right knives and learned the skills needed. Pumpkin season is officially here and we couldn’t be more happy about it.