Professional Pumpkin Carver Shares Why You SHOULDN’T Light A Tealight Inside

It can actually start to cook the pumpkin, so it goes off faster – the best thing to do is to get a small LED tea light instead

<p>Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images</p>

A professional pumpkin carver has shared her top tips for carving the perfect pumpkin this Halloween – and why you shouldn’t light a tealight inside it. 

Szimonetta Zombori, 30, works all year round as a professional fruit artist – but Halloween is her favorite time of the year. The mum-of-two carves intricate designs on pumpkins – including well-known faces such as Mona Lisa and Frankenstein – for up to £200 per design. 

Szimonetta from Bournemouth, Dorset, said you should never ‘just wing it’ when it comes to your design – and should map it out first to get the best result. The artist also warned against an easy mistake people make – putting a real lit tealight in your pumpkin. She explained that people don’t realize this can actually start to cook the pumpkin, so it goes off faster – and the best thing to do is to get a small LED tea light instead. 

Sisi, a mum-of-two, said: “For me, when coming up with a design, I always look around me and see if I can find something for inspiration. I always try to find challenging designs to try out for myself each year.” 

Szimonetta completed a stone sculpting course in 2014 after leaving school, but quickly discovered she had a passion for a more unusual medium – food. Although pumpkins are one of Szimonetta’s favourite canvases, she can create incredible art from nearly any food – including watermelons, cheese, broccoli, and even an avocado. 

Her work has even attracted major clients such as Sainsbury’s and L’Oreal, who get her to work on ad campaigns. Her partnership with Sainsbury’s two years ago saw her carve celebrity faces into pumpkins, including Ed Sheeran and David Bowie. She said: “It can be tiring when I have a big project to complete! When I have lots of pumpkins to carve, it’s a race against the clock to get them completed while they’re still fresh. I can complete smaller pieces like mangoes or cheese blocks in under two hours, but a watermelon or pumpkin can take more than three. But I prefer working on bigger foods like pumpkins because there is more space to do more with it.” 

Along with mapping out your carving plan and using an LED light, Sisi recommended people start to branch out – and don’t just stick with traditional tools. She favors a linoleum cutter to allow you to scrape off layers without going all the way through the flesh into the hollow centre. She said: “That tool is best for intricate designs. But if you want to go for the traditional jack-o-lantern style, you will need a stainless steel, good quality saw, a strong poker tool, and a good pumpkin scraper. You will notice a difference in how easy it will be to work with these tools.” 

FILE – 07 November 2021, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Ludwigsburg: Visitors look at Stefano Cutrupi’s “world record pumpkin” decorated with artistic carvings at the Ludwigsburg pumpkin exhibition. 

Another important point, she said, is that people tend to forget when carving pumpkins is keeping the pumpkin wet. Keeping it moist helps it stay “workable” and is easier to cut into. She said: “Pumpkins are losing a lot of moisture while you carve them, so one thing I do while carving is I am constantly spraying it, trying to keep it wet.” She added: “When I finish with the carving, I wrap it with clingfilm, and I remove it only before I put the carving on display.” Her final tip – which is something a lot of people don’t realize – is you should never pick up a pumpkin by its stem. Sisi warned: “Doing this will cause it to snap off and cause the pumpkin to rot more quickly.” 


Produced in association with SWNS.