It’s the time year to head to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect jack-o’-lantern. But what exactly makes the “perfect” pumpkin for carving spooky faces into?
The Irish brought the practice of carving pumpkins during the All Hallow’s Eve festival to the United States, except they used turnips across the pond and adopted the abundant fall fruit soon after arrival in North America. With a lit candle on the inside, it was used to ward off evil spirits.
Today the typical carving pumpkin is known as the Connecticut Field variety. It’s bright orange and tough enough to hold up to a knife while taking chunks out of it. According to the website Allaboutpumpkins.com, there are several key features to the perfect pumpkin.
First, you want to choose a pumpkin that is firm and heavy for its size — it should feel dense. Pick a pumpkin that is orange throughout without any blemishes. Press your thumbs into the bottom of the pumpkin to check for freshness. If it pushes in, it is not fresh. To check for early spoilage or damage, check for soft spots, mold or open wounds. A solidly attached green stem indicates a freshly harvested pumpkin. Last, but maybe the most important, place the pumpkin on a flat surface to see if it leans or is level, discard if it leans, because your candle will tip over.
5 Fun Pumpkin Facts:
- The word “pumpkin” has no agreed upon botanical meaning, but is derived from Greek for “large melon.”
- A pumpkin is a fruit, not a vegetable, and its flowers are edible.
- 80 percent of pumpkins grown in the United States are available in October.
- Pumpkins are very nutritious: 1 cup has only 49 calories but 2.7 grams of fiber.
- The world record for largest pumpkin grown was set in 2016 by Belgian farmer Mathias Willemijns and weighed in at a whopping 2,624 pounds.