It's mid October, just about the time for families to head out to our local pumpkin farms to pick the perfect fruit for carving a jack-o-lantern.
The University of Illinois Extension offers the following tips for picking a pumpkin that will grace your front porch until Halloween comes along.
- Look for a pumpkin with 1 to 2 inches of stem left, but never carry it by the stem. Pumpkins without a stem will not last long. If the stem is cut down too low the pumpkin will decay quickly or may be decaying at the time of purchase.
- Avoid pumpkins with blemishes and soft spots. Also, avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will rot.
- Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it will stand upright.
- Light colored pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as darker orange colored ones, but they will not keep as well.
In addition to carefully selecting a pumpkin, taking some care to prepare the pumpkin before carving can help it to last longer.
- Wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry before carving.
- To make the pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to carve.
- After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly.
Locally, you can find pumpkins at Dollinger Family Farm, 7502 East Hansel Rd.,
in Channahon, Heaps Giant Pumpkin Farm, 4853 U.S. 52 in Minooka and Siegel's Cottonwood Farm, 17250 S. Weber Rd., in Crest Hill.
Stay tuned next week for tips on what to do with the guts of the pumpkin once you scoop the insides out.