How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin
There may be no better symbol for the fall season than the pumpkin. Big and bright, hearty and healthy, pumpkins represent everything good about autumn. They’re widely used as decorations throughout the fall, though you may associate them with Halloween the most. Whether you’re carving them or cooking them, you can’t go wrong with pumpkins.
Either way, it’s important to choose the right pumpkins and know how to store them – no one wants rotten pumpkins staining the porch or smelling up the house just as it’s getting cold outside!
In this episode of Homegrown, we take a road trip to get some pumpkin pointers from Penny Perkins-Veazie, a researcher in postharvest physiology with NC State University – she studies what happens to fruits and vegetables after they’ve been harvested.
Watch as she shares tips and tricks on which types of pumpkins work best for your jack-o’-lanterns and how to safekeep them to make the most out of your decorations. Some pumpkins are best used for ornamental purposes, others are mostly used for cooking, and some can be used for both!
Pumpkin Carving Checklist
If you need a pumpkin and are still looking for that most sincere patch, try the N.C. Pumpkins page from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Once you’ve found the perfect pumpkin for your front steps, it’s time to start carving. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Have a plan – Pumpkins are sturdy, so you can take a bit of time deciding on what kind of design you want. You can print a stencil or draw it free-hand on your pumpkin.
- Pick your tools – You can go the conventional way and buy a pumpkin carving tool, but most of the time you can find appropriate tools around your own home. Paring knives, fruit zesters, sculpting tools and big spoons are all great for carving and shaping.
- Be clean and safe – Make sure to lay down a piece of newspaper and wear protective gloves if you will be handling sharp knives.
- Scoop everything out – Don’t leave any seeds inside the pumpkin. Once you start carving it’s important to scrape the walls clean, otherwise the pumpkin will start to mold quicker!
- Have fun! – After all, being creative and carving your own, personal design is the best part. So gather with friends and family this fall and get carving!
Can I Grow Pumpkins at Home?
Download the Growing Pumpkins for the Home Garden guide from Mississippi State Extension to learn more about what’s involved and how to get started growing your own pumpkins. Good luck!