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Watermelon carving is part of a long tradition in Southeast Asia of carving fruits and vegetables. The carved foods are used both as garnishes and as inventive ways to display and serve food. A carved watermelon requires careful planning and execution to be successful. Decide in advance the type and style of carving you would like before cutting; once you start, there’s no turning back.

Design Ideas

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Common choices for watermelon carvings include reproductions of toys, such as Lego blocks; of birds or animals; of cartoon humans; and models of inanimate objects, such as bags, boats, hats or sports items. Many of these designs take advantage of a watermelon’s naturally spherical or oval shape. Because of their similarity in shape, you can also carve a watermelon using designs much as you would for a pumpkin. In this case, keep the flesh after hollowing out the melon, and, as with a jack-o'-lantern, place a lit candle inside to illuminate cut-out portions.

Create a Template

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A template helps you plan the proportion and spacing of shapes. When designing your template, consider the shape and coloring of the melon; the dark green outer skin contrasts with the crisp white of the rind. The flesh of the melon is eye-catching and its coloring must be considered when plotting out the template. Once drawn, the template can be cut into a stencil using a thin, sharp knife before you tape it onto the watermelon.

Closed Carvings

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Watermelon carvings can be closed or open. Closed carvings make use of only the white rind and dark green skin, leaving the flesh of the melon unexposed. Closed carvings are easier to do, as they are often two-dimensional and simpler. Planning closed carvings is also much easier, as you do not need to worry about how to arrange the fruit. For a closed watermelon carving, trace the pattern onto the watermelon, marking sharp corners and the ends of lines with a toothpick. Carefully cut along the edge of the outline, using a channel knife, designed for zesting, to hollow out any large portions of skin.

Open Carvings

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Open carvings, those with a three-dimensional design that show off the flesh of the melon, are much more complicated. Execute these only with detailed planning and prior experience in carving watermelons. Three-dimensional designs often require you to cut out and shape the inside flesh. In some cases, the carved melon acts as a serving vessel and as decoration. Before carving out the design on the skin and rind of the melon, make the required cut to open up the melon. If your design calls for it, remove all of the flesh, using either a melon baller or cutting the flesh out in large chunks. Some open watermelon carvings are purely decorative, but these are very complicated and make use of the varying colors of a melon.

About the Author

David Grimes

David Grimes has worked professionally as a chef since 2002, in settings as wide-ranging as a corporate caterer and as a sous chef in a Michelin-starred French restaurant. He has been writing about food since 2009 and published in "Time Out New York" and "Food and Wine" magazine.