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Choosing the right pumpkin sounds like a silly topic. How can there be a “right pumpkin”? Are there wrong pumpkins? Are some pumpkins destined to great things while others will try to ruin your Halloween?

I don’t think you’ll end up with any pumpkin disasters, but there certainly are a few things to look for when if you’re planning on carving that little orange beast. You may want to jot down a few of the following notes before you pack up the family and head to the Pumpkin Patch.

Choosing the Right Pumpkin

1. What comes first? The Pumpkin or the Stencil?

      If you have already looked through a bunch of pumpkin carving stencils and have narrowed down the list, take a closer look at your favorites. Some will definitely work better on

elongated pumpkins

      than short round ones. If you haven’t already chosen your stencil, then the following hints will help out even more.

2. Flat Bottom Girls. A pumpkin may be beautiful in every way, but if the bottom isn’t flat, she just may take herself for a roll down the neighborhood. If you’re choosing your pumpkin from the supermarket, set it on the ground first. A flat floor will show just how level the pumpkin is. You’ll want to use the smoothest side for carving and if it won’t stay level when it’s turned to that side, you’ll wish you had used another. If you’re literally picking a pumpkin from the patch, bring along a small piece of plywood. Dirt is too forgiving when it comes to check the level.

3. Itchy and Scratchy. Blemishes and scarring can be a good thing or a bad thing. In some cases those ugly marks a pumpkin may add a really cool effect. For example, if you’re carving an ugly old witch, she may look super cool with a warty-looking face. If you’re caring an intricate design, look for the clearest skin you can.

4. To eat or not to eat. That may be the question, but the answer is simple. The smaller, the tastier. If you’re just using the pumpkin to carve, then you’ll likely want to find a big fella. But if you plan on carving one day and chowing down, the next, you should know that once a pumpkin gets past a 10″ diameter, you’re not going to want to eat it. Too much of the sugar gets lost, but even less appetizing is it get’s stringy. Gross. BUT WAIT… just because you’re not going to eat it, doesn’t mean Fido won’t.
HINT FROM THE 4-LEGGED: Many dogs LOVE pumpkin. And it’s good for them too. You can feed it to them raw. Just cut off the outer skin and toss them a chunk. If they don’t gobble it up, I would question their canine-ness. If raw isn’t their thing, bake it for a while. They may like that nuttier flavor and softer texture.
WARNING FROM THE 2-LEGGED: Doggy eating too much pumpkin may cause for bigger cleanups in the back yard. Like every treat, moderation is best. You don’t want to have to get up with Fluffy in the middle of the night because she needs an extra trip around the block.

AND ONE LAST TIP: A younger, less-ripe pumpkin is going to last you a little longer. Of course we’re talking about carving pumpkins. Less ripe means less taste, but it also means when you carve it, it may last longer. You’ll want to get these directly from the local pumpkin patch.

Have fun choosing the right pumpkin for you.

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