Patrick O’Brien is a former chef who now travels the country as a professional fruit and vegetable carver. Known as the Fruit Carving Ninja, he produces displays for trade shows, special events, culinary competitions and more.
We caught up with Patrick at the N.C. State Fair, where he gave carving demonstrations and delivered fruit and vegetable puns to fairgoers at the Flower and Garden Show. He offered some advice for those wanting to try something beyond a traditional jack-o-lantern this Halloween.
Follow these tips to create the best and longest-lasting pumpkin:
- Choose a pumpkin with an unusual shape. Most people look for a perfectly round pumpkin, but Patrick suggests finding one that’s flat on one side or has a funky shape. If you’re carving a face, an oblong shape is ideal, since faces aren’t usually round.
- Pick a heavy pumpkin. Thicker walls on your pumpkin allow for more detail. This is critical when carving designs that don’t cut completely through the rind.
- Purchase printable template sheets. Stick ‘n Carve sheets can be printed with any design, then stuck to your pumpkin for easy carving. When you’re done, the template wipes off with a wet cloth.
- Use superglue to attach extra pieces. While it wouldn’t seem like it would stick, superglue is the preferred adhesive of fruit carvers. Just be careful not to stick yourself to the pumpkin!
- Use a mold and mildew remover. Soak your finished pumpkin in a solution of one part Wet and Forget and five parts water to discourage mold growth. Pumpkins have a natural mold inside of them, and this product will help keep your masterpiece fresh.
- Spray it with vegetable wash spray. Your favorite veggie spray will prevent annoying fruit flies. Use it as much as necessary to keep them away.
- Light your pumpkin with LEDs. A submersible LED light will be much brighter and safer than a candle. You can even get them with alternating colors or light patterns.
- Refresh your pumpkin with wet paper towels. If your pumpkin starts to dry out, you can wrap it with wet towels and plastic wrap, then pop it in the fridge overnight.