With Halloween just around the corner, nothing’s more fun than taking the kids or grandkids to a pumpkin patch.Here are tips for picking out great pumpkins:
- Buy the pumpkins three days to a week before Halloween, depending on the weather in your area.
- Determine in advance what kind of designs you want to make so you can buy the right size and shape pumpkins.
- Decide what kind of pumpkin you want. Jack-o'-lantern pumpkins have string, watery flesh and are best used for Halloween decorations rather than cooking. Mini pumpkins have a rich, sweet flavor. Other cooking pumpkins include sugar, cheese, and pie pumpkins.
- See if there are any farms in your area that have pumpkin patches. It’s fun to take kids to them so they can see how pumpkins grow.
- Check your local farmers’ market. It’s likely to have a wider selection of varieties and sizes.
- Supermarkets, discount stores, and other stores offer pumpkins, but some cut the stems short, making it difficult to hold them as you carve.
- Look for firm pumpkins with a strong stem that aren’t mushy and soft. A uniform orange color shows that pumpkins are ripe.
- Avoid pumpkins with bruises, cuts, or nicks.
- Test the weight of the pumpkin. It should be heavy for its size, not light.
- Treat the pumpkins gently. If they’re bruised, they’ll deteriorate more quickly.
- Don’t carry pumpkins by the stems. The stems could break off.
- Store the pumpkins in a cool, dry place.
- Carve the pumpkins just before Halloween because they begin to rot quickly.
- Be careful if you put candles inside carved pumpkins. It will cause them to deteriorate more quickly, and they could warp. Remember also that candles can always be a fire hazard.
Copyright 2009, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist