The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday April 14th

N.C. farmers give tips on finding and preparing the perfect pumpkin

From vine to jack-o’-lantern

Evan Brown, 14, sells pumpkins at Amity United Methodist Church. The sale is a fundraiser for Brown’s church and Boy Scouts troop.
Buy Photos Evan Brown, 14, sells pumpkins at Amity United Methodist Church. The sale is a fundraiser for Brown’s church and Boy Scouts troop.

Whether you’re looking to carve a frightening ghost, an elaborate UNC logo or just the traditional grinning Jack, local experts gave a few tips to help make this year’s pumpkin carving experience the best yet.

How and where to find the perfect pumpkin to carve

When it comes to carving, there are a few specific qualities necessary to look for in a pumpkin, area farmers said.

Milton Ganyard, who owns Ganyard Hill Farm in Durham, said he suggests the jack-o’-lantern breed of pumpkin for optimal carving.

“The shell is not as thick, so they’re easier to carve than, say, a pie pumpkin, which tends to have a harder, thicker shell,” he said. “You want to have a larger area to do all your cutting in.”

Russell Vollmer, a farmer at Vollmer Farm in Franklin County, said there are various types of pumpkins grown locally, and some are better than others.

“What we have here are Aladdin, Magic Lantern and Gladiator — those are the main types that people use for carving,” he said.

“The most important thing is you got to have a pumpkin that has somewhat of a flat bottom.

“And the better pumpkins have a stem, so you can grab it once you cut it out.”

Different types of carving pumpkins can be found in local grocery stores, said Brandon Dudley, assistant produce manager at the Harris Teeter in Carrboro.

What special tools are best for pumpkin carving?

Local farmers said there are certain tools that make good pumpkin carving cleaner and easier.

“There’s a tool, kind of like a knife, which has a smaller, narrower blade,” Ganyard said. “It’s serrated and has a nice point on it made for that particular purpose.”

Vollmer suggested buying a special carving kit, which may be the best way to go for some. But standard kitchen utensils can also get the job done, he said.

“You can use a bigger knife to cut the big chunks, then go to a smaller one, and you can use a big spoon to scoop out all the guts,” Vollmer said.

Carving the pumpkin and ?finding alternatives

Jack-o’-lanterns can be dull if people don’t carve out enough pulp, Vollmer said.

“When you’re carving, you want to thin out that wall. This makes the pumpkin glow a lot brighter.”

Ganyard said a jack-o’-lantern lasts only a few days, depending on the weather.

Rather than throwing out the insides of a carved pumpkin, Vollmer suggested roasting the seeds.

“You can make some with butter and brown sugar, and of course you can always spray on a little bit of olive oil and salt them,” he said.

He also said it’s not too early to look ahead to the next holiday.

“This is also the opportunity for people to get pumpkins and make pumpkin pie,” he said.

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