Halloween is just around the corner, and carving a pumpkin is a great way to add fun and spookiness to this yearly event. This tradition dates back to 2,000 years ago when the Celts used to celebrate the festival of Samhain. They wore costumes, lit bonfires and they used to carve faces into pumpkins and other vegetables to ward off evil spirits. However, it’s not always easy to shop for the perfect jack o’ lantern. You’ll have to consider quite a lot of things to determine whether the pumpkin will withstand carving competitions and turn into a delicious pumpkin soup.
With a few weeks before 31st October, it’s time to prepare for a fun-filled bonding with friends and family. And of course, it all starts with looking for the perfect Halloween pumpkin. It’s actually a lot more than just looking at its shape and size. You also have to check for nicks and bruising, and you also have to look at the colours of its stem to determine whether it’s freshly picked or not.
When shopping for a pumpkin, remember that an old, crumbling greying one won’t be any good. You’ll end up throwing it out because it can’t be carved and even cooked. Pumpkins are widely available in supermarkets or you can pick your own at numerous farms across the UK.
Wherever you choose to purchase your Halloween pumpkin, here are some tips to make sure you’re choosing the best one for this spooky holiday.
1. Inspect for damage and soft spots
To be sure you’re getting a good quality pumpkin, make sure to inspect for any nicks, scratches, as well as soft spots. The more damages its skin has, the weaker it is. This makes it possible for the pumpkin not to be ideal for carving and it might not also taste good when roasted for a batch of soup. Keep looking around for a fresh-looking pumpkin that has smooth skin and press it to check soft surfaces.
2. Look for an even shape
A odd-shaped pumpkin may look unique and interesting, but when it comes to carving it, it could be difficult. Because it’s less symmetrical, some areas may vary in thickness so it will be tough to slice through. So, the more rounded and even-shaped the pumpkin is, the easier it will be to be carved and designed creatively.
3. Check if the colour is consistent
Of course, you don’t want an old-looking, faded, greying, and cracked pumpkin. Have patience in looking for the pumpkin that has the brightest, orange colour as it’s the likely to be the most healthy and fresh. A bright orange pumpkin would also look good as a centrepiece on the table or carved with a candle.
4. Look for a solid stem
Another way to check if a pumpkin is fresh is if the stem is still solidly attached. Try picking it up with the stem to see if it’s not yet old and weak. A green stem is also a good sign that the pumpkin has just been picked, so it should be fresh.
5. Target for a smaller pumpkin if baking
If you plan to use the pumpkin for baking, choose a small te medium sized, also known as the ‘golden nugget’. This kind is best for making roasted pumpkin soups as the smaller squash plants are usually sweeter and are finely textured than bigger ones. Make sure to choose one with a deep orange skin to get a light golden flesh on the inside.