The Perfect Pumpkin
Searching for the perfect pumpkin for your frightful jack-o-lantern this Halloween? Go right to the source this fall and visit a pumpkin patch. A trip to a pick-your-own patch is a pleasant way to enjoy a spectacular autumn afternoon. Come October, farms across Ontario open their doors to the public for pumpkin picking and so much more. Meet the animals that live there, play a game of pumpkin bowling or survey the fields on a hayride.
For the time-pressed this season, several on-farm markets such as Whittamore’s Farm in east Markham offer pre-carved pumpkins! Whittamore’s is also planning a spooky Halloween celebration on October 30.
Varieties of Pumpkins
- Sugar – excellent for baking
- Jack O’Lantern – most common for carving
- White Lumina – unusual, medium-sized white pumpkin
- Mini – great for decoration
- Gourds – many varieties, used for decorations
Sculpt a spooky pumpkin by choosing a large, heavy, well-rounded pumpkin with a flat bottom. Ideally, try to find one that is free from cuts, soft spots and bruises. The flesh should feel hard and not give easily. Make sure the stem is attached.
Store it carefully, especially if you pick it from the vine yourself. Keep it in a dry, cool, place, such as a basement.
For cooking, look for small sugar pumpkins rather than the larger ones used for jack-o-lanterns. The smaller varieties are sweeter, fleshier and less watery. You can often get these at the grocery store or at your local pumpkin patch or farm stand. If you’re asking for assistance selecting the perfect pumpkin for your pumpkin pie, be sure to say it’s to be used in a pie and not on your porch. Always look for a firm pumpkin with no soft spots or signs of rot.
Pumpkins are very nutritious – they’re full of vitamin C, vitamin A, fibre, minerals and carotenoids, which is a type of antioxidant that protects against cancer and heart disease.