Pumpkin Patch Picking Tips

October 16, 2009 10:11:06 AM PDT
If you have not yet found your Halloween pumpkin, 'Pumpkin Ed' Moody from Frankfort, Michigan has some advice on how to pick the best pumpkin, where to find pumpkin patches and how to carve and decorate your pumpkin. Ed has been carving pumpkins since he was six, so he has a lot of great expertise to share. How to select your pumpkin:
  • First determine the usage:

  • - Will it be for decoration, carving, eating?
  • 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)
    - When transporting home from the pumpkin patch, wrap in a blanket to prevent bruising.
  • Don't worry if your orange pumpkin is still a bit green; it will ripen!

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

Pumpkin Trends:

  • Stacking pumpkins, using the "Cinderella" variety:
  • - Cinderella pumpkins are deep red to orange, flattened, and deeply ribbed
    - Excellent for decor they are difficult to carve.
    - Good for stacking
    - Semi-sweet flesh is good for pies.
    - Keep very well
  • Using patterns for etched pumpkins
  • Illumination trends departing from traditional candles to battery operated LEDs

  • - Helps keep pumpkin dry
    - Slows down mold process
    - Safer to use
  • Using Kid-safe tools/carving sets

  • - 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 .