Silly Food Fact
Mathias Willemijns of Belgium holds the current world record for heaviest pumpkin. His pumpkin, which entered the competition back in October of 2016, weighed in at a whopping 2,624 pounds! That’s the equivalent of a small car! Pumpkin weigh-off competitions occur every fall, and almost always a new, massive pumpkin trumps the old weight record. Now that’s a huge jack-o-lantern and a lot of pumpkin pies!
Why Our Bodies Love Them
Pumpkins get their bright orange color from beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, and once eaten, our bodies convert it to vitamin A. It provides many health benefits, such as vision support and eye health. It’s also a major supporter of our immune systems, so we can fight off infection! It may even be associated with a reduced risk of some cancers. Pumpkins, along with their crunchy seeds, offer plenty of potassium and fiber. As far as pumpkin puree, canned pumpkin has the same nutritional value as fresh.
Care and Picking
First, choose your seed. Dozens of varieties exist, depending on the size, taste, and color you desire. Pumpkins love sunshine and water! Remember that the vines will want to sprawl everywhere, but it’s okay to clip back runaway vines if needed. Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the vines shrivel and the pumpkin turns orange. When cutting the pumpkin off the vine, leave several inches of the stem intact to help keep the pumpkin fresh.
Learn how to grow a giant pumpkin here!
Tips and Warnings
For a jack-o-lantern, pick a large pumpkin that doesn’t tip over easily. Lighter colored pumpkins are usually softer and easier to carve, but darker pumpkins tend to last longer. To further preserve, spray the carved pumpkin inside and out using a disinfectant cleaner with bleach. Of course, don’t use the cleaner on any pumpkin you are going to cook with! The best cooking pumpkins are the smaller ones, which are more tender and have better flavor. Look for a pumpkin that’s heavy for its size, with an intact stem and no soft spots.