Autumn has arrived, and before long, you’ll see your friends and neighbors setting out jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween. If you want to carve your own grinning gourd this fall, it all starts with finding the right pumpkin. Follow these steps to bring home a winner.
As you explore a pumpkin patch, farmer’s market, or grocery store, you might notice that some pumpkins are labeled as “pie pumpkins” and others are “jack-o’-lanterns.” That’s because a pumpkin might be great for one role, and not really well suited for another. Pie pumpkins are loaded with far more pulp than other varieties, and while that’s great for baking, their thick walls make them tough to carve. They’re also typically smaller, offering less surface area to work with. Carving or jack-o’-lantern varieties are usually much bigger, with thinner walls and less messy pulp on the inside.
Pick a Winner
When it’s time to pick out the right pumpkin for your plans, there are some key factors to consider before you make a purchase:
- To start, look all around the pumpkin for scratches, bruises, or dark spots. You’ll need a smooth surface to work with, and bumps and other blemishes can interfere with your carving.
- Once you see one you like, pick it up and tap the side of it. If it’s in good shape, it should give off a hollow sound inside. Then turn it over and press a finger against the bottom. It should feel firm, as a soft sensation indicates that it might not be ripe for much longer.
- Finally, set the pumpkin down to see if it can sit flat on the ground. You need to make sure that it won’t wobble while you’re carving, and that it will look right while on display.
When you feel that you’ve found the perfect gourd, remember to carry it with a hand underneath, as lugging it by the stem might cause it to break and fall.
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