- First determine the usage:
- Size the pumpkin to enhance your planned design
- Pick a shape to match your design -Now there are a variety of shapes – flat, round, small, large
- Select an appropriate color: - Orange, red, green ,white, green, multicolor
- Check for quality of pumpkin: - Make sure it has no mold, soft spots or cracks (bruises and dents creates mold faster)
- Don't worry if your orange pumpkin is still a bit green; it will ripen!
- Will it be for decoration, carving, eating?
- When transporting home from the pumpkin patch, wrap in a blanket to prevent bruising.
Varieties of Pumpkins:
- Jack O'Lantern - Most common for carving
- White Lumina - Unusual, medium-sized white pumpkin (sometimes called a Ghost pumpkin)
- Cinderella – Flat pumpkin, used for stacking, becoming more popular
- Mini - Great for decoration
- Sugar - Excellent for baking
- Gourds - Many varieties, used for decorations
Caring for pumpkins at home:
- Keep pumpkin dry
- Keep pumpkin away from heat (use an electric LED candle instead of a candle)
- Carved pumpkins last 3-5 days
Pumpkin Carving Techniques:
- Pumpkins with a flatter bottom will stand more upright
- Softer pumpkins are easier to carve, but won't last as long
- If you carve too much of the pumpkin, use a toothpick to hold together
- Use kid-friendly tools
- Make sure to properly cut out the top of the pumpkin
- Carving a large pumpkin can take up to four hours
- Stacking pumpkins, using the "Cinderella" variety: - Cinderella pumpkins are deep red to orange, flattened, and deeply ribbed
- Using patterns for etched pumpkins
- Illumination trends departing from traditional candles to battery operated LEDs
- Using Kid-safe tools/carving sets
- Excellent for decor they are difficult to carve.
- Good for stacking
- Semi-sweet flesh is good for pies.
- Keep very well
- Helps keep pumpkin dry
- Slows down mold process
- Safer to use
- Martha Stewart, Pumpkin Masters, etc.
Michigan Pumpkin Patches
Here are some Michigan Pumpkin Patches that are an easy drive from the Chicago area:
- Gary Crane Farm - Pumpkins, gourds, squash, Indian corn and gourd art 6017 124th Ave, Fennville, Michigan 49408 (www.cranesupick.com)
- Overhiser Orchards - Pumpkin patch: pick in the field, or pick up ones already gathered, corn maze, child-sized hay-bale maze 6317-107th Ave. South Haven, MI 49090 (www.overhiserorchards.com)
- Jollay Orchards – Pumpkins, Haunted House, farmers market 1850 Friday Rd., Coloma, MI 49038 (www.jollayorchards.com)
- Stephenson Farms - Pumpkins 6783 Baseline Rd. South Haven, MI 49090
To plan your next Michigan fall weekend getaway to a pumpkin patch, check out www.michigan.org/pumpkins .