Pumpkin Patch Picking Tips

October 16, 2009 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 .

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