Every year, people of all ages gather together to find the perfect festive decoration for Halloween: pumpkins. Pumpkins come in a variety of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Different kinds of pumpkins have very distinct characteristics, easily separating them from one another and making it effortless to pick out the perfect one for your carving desires. When doing so, however, many do not consider the science behind finding the perfect pumpkin. People only look for blemishes, scratches, or marks when going through their options. However, there are many other factors one could pay attention to.
Kenny Tanaka, the owner of Tanaka Farms, emphasizes, “The best pumpkins to carve [are] whatever your heart desires. Some people like long and skinny, short and fat, or anything between.”
When searching for your pumpkin, begin to look for ones that are grown for the purpose of carving. Most pumpkin patches sell various types of pumpkins that are used for different purposes, such as decoration, carving, and eating. To make sure the one you picked is suitable for carving, look at its traits. Pumpkins meant for cooking are usually thicker and have more guts while carving pumpkins have thinner walls and are more hollow inside. Carving pumpkins are more stringy and chalky on the inside compared to pie pumpkins, making it less tiresome to clean out. Baking pumpkins are also smaller in size and are rounded more.
Once you begin to differentiate pumpkins and what they are used for, you can begin looking at their features to determine which are best for sawing into.
First, pick up a pumpkin and give it a good tap to test its sturdiness. A pumpkin with a hollow sound is ideal because there are fewer guts to clean out. If it passes this first test, you can begin examining its aesthetic features. If it has consistent colors throughout the whole pumpkin then you can check for any deficiencies. After, you must check if the pumpkin is going to last for a long period of time before it begins rotting. To do so, flip it over so the bottom is facing you, then begin to lightly push down to check if the base is completely strong. If you can feel it indenting, the pumpkin has already begun decaying and it is not suitable for carving. The perfect pumpkin should pass these three tests.
If you want to look into different varieties better known for carving, there are Hobbit and Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins, also known as Captain Jack, and Autumn Gold pumpkins. Typically patches are filled with Captain Jack pumpkins due to their smaller size and deep, bright colors. These pumpkins are considered small and range from seven to ten pounds. They have an intense orange color with a thick stem and have a round to oval shape to it. Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins were specifically designed and created for the purpose of carving pumpkins. Hobbit pumpkins are medium-sized, weighing in at about ten to twelve pounds, and are colored a satisfying golden orange. They are generally round, tall pumpkins. Autumn Gold pumpkins are very unique due to the vibrant orange color they get prior to maturing. When they are fully grown, they become glossy and change into a more dark orange. They grow to be between ten to fifteen pounds, making them a medium type of pumpkin. Any of these pumpkins are perfect for your Halloween decoration vision and will make Halloween more exciting.
Claudia Thacker, a head worker at Pa’s Pumpkin Patches, highlights, “It is important to consider [that]…once you carve them, [pumpkins] usually start to decay in just a few days. But nowadays there are few preservatives out in the market to help those enthusiasts that take carving very serious[ly], to help them preserve them longer once they have been carved.”
A homemade preserving spray can be made out of a solution mixed with either peppermint or tea tree oil, water, and liquid castile soap. Spray the carved areas, inside and outside, thoroughly with the mixture. Once dry, your pumpkin is ready to be used for decoration!
Interested in finding your own pumpkin? Here are some local pumpkin patches to begin searching:
Pa’s Pumpkin Patch
6701 CA-1, Long Beach, CA 90803
Tanaka Farms (Irvine)
5380 3/4 University Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
Tanaka Farms (Costa Mesa)
427 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Manassero Farms Market
33 Irvine Valley, Irvine, CA 92604
Happy pumpkin carving!