Halloween pumpkin

Pick a Perfect Pumpkin

Start by choosing a pumpkin that’s firm, fresh, and not over-ripe. Avoid any with soft spots or obvious bruises. If you can, buy from a roadside farm stand to get the best quality in the best condition.

Ready to carve a scarey face?

Pumpkin Carving

Kraft Foods has some pumpkin carving tips and techniques for you, as well as free jack-o-lantern stencils.

And then there’s Me on a Pumpkin software that turns your favourite photos into “stencils for creating original and breath-taking pumpkin carvings,” so they say!

Pumpkins carved with Jack-o-lantern facesChildren who are too young to handle a knife can be encouraged to create a painted pumpkin. Or the kids can draw on their Jack-o-lantern’s face with a marker and let a parent or other handy adult do the actual carving.

Keep your Jack-o-lantern fresh…

(In case you wonder why you’d want to bother, check out PumkinFresh.com for truly scarey pictures of a rotting pumpkin!)

Keep Halloween pumpkins in a cool place and don’t let them dry out. For example, you might wrap it in a damp towel and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to carve.

(Pumpkin Masters say that you can revive a shrivelled-up jack-o-lantern by soaking it in water for several hours.)

Once they’ve been carved, pumpkins — any cut-up vegetables, for that matter — will last longer if they are kept somewhere that’s cool but just a little bit on the dry side.

We used to preserve our Halloween art by washing down the inside of the carved pumpkin with diluted bleach and then smearing on a thin layer of petroleum jelly.

Jack-o-lanterns on Halloween night

Now there’s a new spray called Pumpkin Fresh that’s said to make jack-o-lanterns last longer by discouraging mold and insects as well as keeping moisture in — basically what we did with the old Javex and Vaseline.

Jack o’ lantern Leftovers!

Don’t forget to put those vegetable remains into the compost when Halloween is over.

Oh, and save those pumpkin seeds to roast for a tasty, healthy snack!

One way to prepare pumpkin seeds for eating is to wash and dry the seeds, then toss them with a small amount of olive oil and the seasonings of your choice and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300°F for about 30-45 minutes. Shake with salt, if you like. Let the toasted seeds cool before storing.

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