September, 2012: The Frost is on the Pumpkin!
What a fine time of year to be outdoors!
We can help one another regarding our nutrition just by walking to get our healthy foods. There’s no better city in the world in which to do so than any of the boroughs of New York City. October 16th this year is World Food Day. Go to www.worldfooddayusa.org and find out more about it.
Please review the materials on October 15th at www.nlaad.org because that day is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. This organization is here in NYC and is dedicated to increasing prevention awareness as well as highlighting the needs of AIDS patients in the Latino community.
October 7th kicks off Mental Illness Awareness Week. If you check out www.nami.org you can find out about the work done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. How can we enjoy the world knowing that someone we care about suffers unduly from a condition that may be able to be alleviated through therapy, either medical or psychological or both?
In order for us to be healthy downstate employees, we need to fuel our minds and bodies properly. A great way in the month of October to do so is to go to an open-air market or drive to a farm if you can. Bring some ‘little ones’ because watching young children in pumpkin fields is a joy to behold!
How to pick the perfect pumpkin
- Choose a design to carve before you go shopping for pumpkins. Think about which shape would best suit your design–tall and narrow? Flat and round? If you’re going to use stencils, look for a pumpkin with a shape similar to the pattern you’re going to carve.
- Check for a smooth, uniformly colored skin. The flesh should be firm, not elastic in any way. Inspect the entire pumpkin. Stay away from pumpkins with bruises, cuts, scratches or any signs of mold. If you’ll be using stencils, steer clear of dents as well.
- Keep an eye out for smaller, “sugar” pumpkins for eating. Not all pumpkins will taste good in a pie. Sugar pumpkins are 200-250mm (8-10″) in diameter and will have smoother, less stringy flesh than a decorative pumpkin.
- Knock on the shell. Ripe pumpkins will make a “hollow” sound. If the pumpkin is the on the vine, the vine should be dry and the stem should be hard and brown. The ripeness of the pumpkin might not matter as much if you’re only interested in carving (in which case an unripened pumpkin might last longer).
- It’s always best to seek pumpkins straight from the vine, because you’ll have a better idea of how fresh and ripe it is, and they’ll have avoided the abuse of being transported.
- Set the pumpkin up to make sure it sits level. You don’t want to choose a pumpkin for carving only to find that it won’t sit up straight for you. If the pumpkin grew on its side and has a flat spot there, you might be able to incorporate it into your design or turn that side against a wall so it isn’t seen.
- Leave as much of the stem on as possible. You can cut the vine on both sides of the stem and then later cut the stem carefully at home. This will help it keep longer. Obviously, this only applies if you’re actually harvesting pumpkins.
- Pick up the pumpkin from the bottom–never from the stem. It can break off easily. If it does break, save the stem because you can often patch it back on with toothpicks.
- Handle it carefully on the way home. Don’t slam it down on the table or let it roll around in the trunk. Any bruises will shorten the pumpkin’s lifespan.
- Store your pumpkins in a cool, dry place. Doing so will help cure the rind, making it less vulnerable to rot.