Monday, October 6, 2014


One of the surest signs that fall is upon us is the appearance of pumpkins for sale along the roadside. Generally speaking if pumpkins are ready for harvest, frost can’t be far behind. The search for the perfect pumpkin has become almost as important as finding the perfect Christmas tree.

The name pumpkin originated from “pepon” the Greek work for “Large Melon”. Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine. American Colonists sliced off pumpkin tips removed the seeds and filled the inside with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin for our pumpkin pie.

Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes. Over the last couple of years, miniature pumpkins have become very popular. Many pumpkins will be carved into Jack-O-Lanterns. Finding just the right pumpkin for carving is a personal choice. Select a pumpkin that is visually appealing, usually a deep orange. The shape is just whatever appeals to you. If it has a flat spot or blemish, just turn that side to the back and carve the front or use it as part of the design.

So how do you preserve your carved pumpkin to make it last longer. Did you carve a great pumpkin masterpiece last year only to have it rot days before Halloween? Here is something you can try to help preserve the pumpkin a little longer. The intact skin of a pumpkin protects it until you carve it. But then various organisms can get inside and start to break it down. Simple dehydration will begin the moment the pumpkin is carved. Make a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the pumpkin inside and all cut areas of the pumpkin with the solution. This will kill the bacteria and mold that cause rotting. Let it penetrate and dry for about 20 minutes. Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible, and you should get at least a week or two of enjoyment out of it!

The tradition of hollowed out pumpkins originated in Ireland and Scotland where they hollowed out turnips and placed embers or candles inside. Irish families who immigrated to America brought the tradition with them, but they replaced the turnips with pumpkins which were native to the New World. I am glad pumpkins were native to America, how would you like to carve a turnip?

Have you ever wondered why carved pumpkins are called Jack-O-Lanterns? If you really want to know you can give me a call.