Having grown pumpkins since childhood, Albert Armand of Harper Valley Farms in Indiana has plenty of tips for anyone who isn’t sure how to pick the perfect pumpkin for carving or baking.
Jack O’Lantern Carving Tips
For carving, Albert recommends a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size.
“That means the rind is good and thick. It’ll be a little harder to get a knife into it, but a thick rind makes a pumpkin last longer after it’s been carved,” he says.
He also shares a trick he once gleaned from a customer.
“If you want to make a jack-o-lantern, don’t take out the stem end and try to reach down inside,” he says. “Just make a square cut out of the bottom of the pumpkin and set the pumpkin down over the candle.”
Cooking and Baking Pumpkins
For those who are planning to cook their pumpkins, the options are nearly endless.
“With all the true pumpkins and squash, you can cook those and make something out of any one of them,” Albert says.
Jack-o-lantern pumpkins have a familiar, traditional flavor, while squash pumpkins tend to be sweeter and milder. Many of his customers swear by buckskin pumpkins, especially for pie, because they have bright-orange flesh that keeps its color when cooked.
But Albert’s most important tips have nothing to do with the pumpkin’s type.
“Remember that a microwave is a wonderful thing when it comes to cooking pumpkins,” he says with a chuckle. “And don’t be afraid to try new ideas. Pumpkins aren’t that expensive, and you can get a lot of eating out of one if you’re so inclined.”