HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL POMELO LANTERN
Sure, there is an assortment of lanterns out there that run the gamut from Pikachu to fluffy rabbits; however, wouldn’t you want to bring out a lantern that was the one and only in the world and was only exclusive to you? Just imagine this:
POMELO: $10 HKD
RABBIT LANTERN: $30 HKD
PIKACHU LANTERN: $35 HKD
HOMEMADE POMELO LANTERN: PRICELESS
For everything else, you can pay with MasterCard (and no I’m not sponsored by MasterCard but would most definitely be opened to the idea). Anyways, let’s get started shall we?
THE HIPSTER POMELO LANTERN.
OR I SHOULD SAY THE GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, ALL NATURAL, DIY POMELO LANTERN THAT’S A THROWBACK TO THE 20TH CENTURY. LIVE AUTHENTICALLY – YOLO!
You will need to have gotten the meat out of the pomelo; however, you need to keep the rind intact, in other words, it cannot be broken into several pieces. Check out my previous post in this Mid Autumn Festival Series to see How to Open and Peel a Pomelo like a Pro if you haven’t already.
How to Make your DIY Traditional Pomelo Lantern:
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
1. CARVE THE POMELO
Go with whatever design you like and carve away. If you’re not as skilled as my friend (photo above), go for a lot of geometric shapes. When the pomelo is lit, the light will be emitted in the shape of those geometric shapes and it’s totes pretty. You can use small knives and we also found that xacto knives worked quite well for the carving.
2. MAKE HOLES USING YOUR CHOPSTICK
Make 2 holes on each side of the peel and make sure that the holes are sturdy and will not be prone to breakage. Meaning, they’re not near the carvings or the edges of the pomelo where the skin is thinner as we will be using these holes to hold the lantern up and to keep everything together.
3. CUT THE FLESH ON THE TOP.
Initially, we kept the candle enclosed inside with the flesh of the pomelo still left on the top; however, the flame will tinge the top and you’ll smell burning, which is rather worrisome. Cut out the top and make sure there is adequate room for the candle flame to burn without touching anything near it.
4. THREAD YOUR STRING THROUGH THE HOLES.
You can either leave the string still attached to the string ball or make sure that you leave yourself with ample string to work with. Using the safety pin as your needle, thread the string through the holes for one full rotation. For the second rotation, switch the threading so that the string is threaded entirely around the outside and also around the inside. The video above might be better at explaining this. In short, make sure that your lantern is secure and won’t break apart.
5. WEAVE AND TUCK THE STRINGS OVER THE OUTSIDE.
Now, it’s just a matter of making sure that the strings are facing the opposite of each other. I just weave and tuck the strings on the outside until that happens. Make sure you tuck the strings and finish the strings off on the outside instead of the inside because we don’t want the string to catch on fire from the candle.
6. SECURE IT ONTO A CHOPSTICK.
Now’s the time to cut the string, and tie the two ends together. Then just slip the chopstick in and wrap the string around one end of the chopstick and secure it as best as you can. This is when you will also adjust the length and height between the lantern to your chopstick. For extra secureness, I tied a rubber band in front of the string at the end of the chopstick to prevent the string from sliding off the chopstick because I am actually serious about take my lantern out on Mid Autumn Festival so I need to ensure it’s going to last.
7. LIGHT THE CANDLE!
If you’re like me and you’re planning on bringing out the lantern, I would suggest you gluing the bottom of the tealight candle to the pomelo by either using a little bit of the melted wax or just some type of glue/adhesive. They also work well as decorative pieces that are stationary like a Jack O Lantern.
TYPE OF POMELO TO PURCHASE
There were two types of pomelo at my local wet market – one was the Thai Pomelo with the green skin, which is the one I used to make the lantern and the other type is the Chinese Pomelo which is longer and pointier with yellow skin (the one at the back in the above photo). I would recommend you to get the Thai Pomelo because it’s rounder and has a flatter base so it’ll be sturdier and will sit a lot better than the Chinese Pomelo.
HOW LONG IN ADVANCE CAN I MAKE THIS? (SHELF LIFE)
They don’t keep for very long. Depending on where you’re based, it can be longer or shorter, but in Hong Kong, you would have to make this and use it within 24 hours or else, the rind starts to curl and shrivel on all the sides. I would say a good rule of thumb would be to make this no more than 24 hours before Mid-Autumn Festival.
HOW MUCH TIME DID IT TAKE?
When we did it over the weekend, I made it into a Pomelo Lantern making party and it took the whole evening, a good 3 hours, but the four of us had so much fun and we spent a lot of time taking photos. When I made one by myself, it literally just took 45 mins, so really, it doesn’t take that long and it’s quite a fun and festive activity.
Don’t miss out any of our posts from the Mid Autumn Festival Series. Have you checked out the first post where you answer all your burning questions about Mid Autumn Festival and everything you need to know about it? Read it here. Read the next post about mooncakes here!