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Pointers on Pumpkin Picking, Carving, Baking!

Lots of us are heading out to the pumpkin patch this week in search of the perfect pumpkin for carving into a jack-o-lantern, and more.

On "The Early Show," Evette Rios, an Online Contributor for Better Homes and Gardens, shared tips on picking, carving and even baking pumpkins.

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Picking Pumpkins

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You want a pumpkin that isn't going to rot too quickly. So when you're looking at your pumpkin, make sure it's not bruised. If there are little bumps, that's fine, you just need to make sure that there aren't any soft spots. Also, the stem should be very solidly attached. If it's not hanging on, then you don't want that pumpkin.

When you're choosing your pumpkin you shouldn't be afraid of an irregular shape. Those can be a lot of fun, so if you see an irregular shape, think if there's a way to make that work with a carving pattern. For example, a square looking pumpkin can be made into a Frankenstein pumpkin or a bumpy one can be a witch with warts.

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Carving Pumpkins

A good tip is to cut out the bottom of the pumpkin and not the top. A lot of people cut out the top so that they can scoop out seeds, but if you cut out the bottom, it's easier to ultimately balance the pumpkin and to place it on top of a candle or light. You want to cut a hole big enough to get your hand in and out of so that you can easily scoop out the seeds. A great trick for getting all the mess out of the pumpkin is to use an ice cream scoop. It makes it much easier to get out all of that goop. And of course, make sure you have a bowl or garbage can nearby depending on whether you're going to toast the seeds or just throw everything away. Carving is a VERY messy thing so just anticipate that and clean up will be easier.

Beat Tools for Carving

You can really use a wide variety of tools. The basic is a kitchen knife, but you can't really carve as precisely with that. The pumpkin carving kits are great because they have those small, serrated knives that make it easy to precisely carve out shapes. If you use one of those, you should really spring for a new one each year since they get worn down quickly. Another option is wood working tools and sculpting tools. Investing in a set of those can be worthwhile since you can use them time and again.

Another fun idea is to use cookie cutters to stencil designs. You can use the cutter to make the imprint and then trace that for carving!

Carving Alternatives?

Painting is a great way to avoid the mess of carving and still end up with a beautiful pumpkin. You can find stencils and make very intricate decorations and paint with bright colors that pop, or go for spookier, Halloween colors.

A really neat alternative is to use power tools! You can use a drill to make holes in the pumpkin.

Baking Pumpkin Pies

You definitely do now want to turn your carving pumpkin into something that you eat. Its old, it's moldy, and you've had candles burning in it. They've also been grown to be sturdy, not to be sweet. The only thing you'll want to eat from your carving pumpkin is the seeds which you can rinse off and toast.

If you want to make pie from actual pumpkins as opposed to the canned stuff, you need to buy the "pie pumpkins" which are much smaller than your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkin.

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