Picking the Best Halloween Pumpkins

When you're getting ready to carve that Halloween masterpiece, you need to choose the right Halloween pumpkin to display your creativity. Whether you go to the grocery store or the pumpkin farm, take these considerations into account when choosing a pumpkin that's going to be perfect for you.

Color: Make sure the pumpkin is a nice, even orange. Bruises, scrapes, rough spots, dents or gouges may not look as appealing. Of course, if you're aiming for artistic license, you may desire flaws. Just avoid soft spots and outright holes because they can indicate rot or spoilage.

Stem: Don't pick up a large pumpkin by the stem, as it may not be strong enough to support the pumpkin's weight. Also, a stem hardens as it cures, but it is soft after picking. Picking it up by the stem could damage the stem if it is still fresh. Store recently picked pumpkins in a cool, dry place for a few days to help the stem cure.

Design: Try to have an idea of your design before you go pumpkin shopping. If you are planning on carving a bunch of little pumpkins to line your walk, get small ones, but make the designs simple with larger holes. Intricate designs are better for the large on-the-porch pumpkins. They also leave you with more room to work inside the pumpkin as needed. If you are using stencils or doing a complex design, get a medium-large pumpkin.

Shape: Since you already know what you're planning for your design, you'll know if a tall, skinny pumpkin will look better than a round, fat pumpkin for what you have in mind. If you want to see the pumpkin and then imagine the design, go ahead. Let the pumpkin inspire you. Keep in mind that medium-sized pumpkins work best for store-bought pumpkin carving kits.

The Bottom: You want to be sure that the bottom is balanced so the pumpkin will sit straight and not rock or roll over while you are working, or after your pumpkin is carved. The stability of a pumpkin is especially important if you plan on adding a candle.

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