Picking the Perfect Pumpkin
When you think of Halloween, what pops into your head? Trick or treating, candy, fall and maybe pumpkins! Pumpkins and Halloween just go together.
Illinois is the #1 pumpkin producing state in the United States. In 2012, Illinois pumpkin farmers produced an estimated 623 million pounds of pumpkins. Pumpkins are grown on every continent except for Antarctica.
Morton, Illinois claims to be the 'Pumpkin Capital of the World'. 80% of the world's canned pumpkin is processed in Morton, Illinois. Morton, Illinois will be celebrating everything Pumpkin at the 47th Annual Morton Pumpkin Festival from September 11-14.
At the 2012 Topsfield, Massachusetts Fair's All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off, the world's largest pumpkin at 2,009 pounds was grown by Ron Wallace from Greene, Rhode Island. This was the first time a pumpkin weighed more than 2,000 pounds.... That may be a little too big for a jack-o'-lantern.
Pumpkins are used to make pies, soups and breads. The world's largest pumpkin pie was made at the New Bremen, Ohio Pumpkinfest in 2010. The pie was 20 feet in diameter and weighed 3,699 pounds! Ingredients for the pie included 1,212 lbs. of canned pumpkin, 2,796 eggs (233 dozen), 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 525 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of salt and 14.5 pounds of cinnamon.
Wolford recommends the following few tips for selecting that perfect pumpkin.
- Choose a pumpkin with a stem at least 1-2 inches long and never carry it by the stem. Pumpkins without a stem will not last long.
- Avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will decay.
- Light colored pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as darker orange colored ones, but they will not keep as well. Wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry before carving.
- To make the pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to carve. After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil. A pumpkin cut for Halloween will last 7-10 days.
- Avoid using candles to light up your pumpkin. The heat from the candle will cook the flesh of the pumpkin, shortening its lifespan.