Monday, October 23, 2017

Pumpkin Power

Another beautiful fall day
I have had the opportunity to be up close and personal with pumpkins since I started working at Valley View Farms way back in 1972.  There must have been a bumper crop of them soon after that because we started selling all-the-pumpkins-you-could-carry- in-your-two-arms for $1.00. Yes, we had to be that specific to keep folks from wearing over sized shirts and jackets to get a big base for the large orange orbs. It was entertaining to watch the kids place piles of pumpkins in dad’s arms and then watch him walk to the cash registers alone and unaided by other family members. Those things were HEAVY!
The search for the perfect pumpkin

Nowadays, pumpkins are a little more expensive and families pick them out with the utmost care and attention to detail. Looking at folks choose their perfect pumpkin is fun. One person will look for a perfectly round fruit; someone else wants the pumpkin to be tall and skinny. A deep orange color is of paramount importance to one person, yet another must have the perfect green “curly-q” stem. Once home, the pumpkin may be painted or carved. Pumpkin Masters has created a huge following for their detailed carving stencils and some really fun, cool tools.

Pumpkin carving parties are being held all over the place, and, not so surprisingly, for adults. A get together at my home last year produced some really creative carvings using hole saws, drills, super pumpkin guts scoopers and the tools from Pumpkin Masters. Participants used regular orange Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins, white skinned pumpkins, various shapes and sizes of gourds and even some of the mini Jack Be Little types.
We repeated the event with the kids a couple of days later, sans saw and drill. They had a blast too.

Tyler and the Webelos
After putting so much work and creativity into carving, it was sad to see one of the pumpkins dry up two weeks before Halloween. The search was on to find a technique to keep the pumpkins nice through trick-or treating.

Here are some hints for pumpkin preservation from Pumpkin Masters.
  1. Spread petroleum jelly on the cut edges of the pumpkin.
  2. Spray the pumpkin with water, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate when the pumpkin is not on display.
  3. Soak or spray the pumpkin with water and a touch of bleach to ward off molding.
  4. Should your pumpkin shrivel, soak it in water for several hours, allowing it to re-hydrate; the more shriveled the pumpkin, the longer it should soak. Dry out the inside thoroughly. It is surprising how pumpkins can be revived using this method.

Autumn’s cooler weather is perfect for outdoor entertaining. Oktoberfests, Halloween parties and family and friend get-togethers abound. Using pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, mums and corn fodder as decorations create a fall festival feel.
 Easy projects include hollowing out cool pumpkins and large cushaw melons or squashes and placing mums inside; cooks might place a bowl with stew or soup into a pumpkin too. Small votive candles can be placed in the Jack Be Little gourds to be used as place cards and table accessories. Safe, battery-powered votives are available now as are old-fashioned wax candles.
Enjoy the fall weather and a little pumpkin fun this Halloween season.

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