A crisp breeze in the air and vibrantly colored leaves means fall is officially here! You’ve probably already spotted bright orange pumpkins popping up everywhere — from your morning latte to your neighbor’s front porch. For all the gourd lovers out here, here’s your complete round up of all things pumpkin to celebrate the season.
Today, pumpkin patches offer much more than pick-your-own experiences. Around town you can visit Spring Haven Farm, 1870 Farm or Phillips Farm to enjoy hay rides, corn mazes, face painting, games and feeding the farm animals. While you’re there, you can hydrate with a glass of apple cider or sip on a cold local beer as you explore the festivities and find your perfect pumpkin.
Pumpkin is an extremely versatile — and tasty — gourd. From morning until night you can find pumpkin-flavored treats to satiate all your cravings. At Coco, you can start your day with a pumpkin pie latte, or if you’re not a coffee drinker, Caribou Coffee’s pumpkin chai has you covered. Complement your morning pick-me-up with a freshly baked pumpkin donut from Dunkin Donuts. For lunch, head over to Vimala’s Curryblossom Café for its seasonal pumpkin and coconut curry. This vegetarian dish can be served as a full meal with rice, dahl, raita and a salad, or as a side dish. To satisfy your afternoon sweet tooth, visit Cold Stone Creamery for a decadent scoop of The Apple of My Pumpkin Pie™ ice cream, its new signature fall flavor. After work, wind down with a pint of Gizmo Brew Works’ seasonal release — a pumpkin coffee ale.
Irish immigrants introduced pumpkin carving to America in the 1800s, and since then the tradition has evolved from creating simple faces into making impressively intricate designs. You don’t need to be a professional artist to make your pumpkin the envy of the block — just stock up on specialty tools and use a stencil as your guide. For a spirited jack-o-lantern, check out these UNC-themed stencils or find inspiration at Spring Haven Farm where you can carve a pumpkin surrounded by goats.
Once you’ve carved your pumpkin, head over to Bynum Bridge for the annual “Pumpkins on the Bridge.” This free event boasts hundreds of carved and candle-lit jack-o-lanterns illuminating the historic bridge from dusk until midnight.
The inside of your pumpkin contains tons of seeds that can be toasted for a tasty snack. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off the pulp and then drain the seeds in a colander and let them dry completely before roasting. Once dry, toss the seeds in oil or butter and salt, and add your favorite seasoning, like cinnamon, sugar and vanilla for a sweeter treat, or give them a savory twist with garlic salt, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce. For more flavor combos, check out these recipes. When all the seeds are evenly coated, arrange them flat on a baking sheet and roast them at 275 degrees for one hour, stirring occasionally.
After Halloween, your pumpkin can be composted in your garden. Just separate it into chunks and cover those pieces with leaves to help them start to break down. If you want to grow your own pumpkins for next year, mark your calendar for June or July. Most species take about 85 to 120 days to ripen, and for more tips, check out this full guide for growing pumpkins in North Carolina.
Enjoy the fall and happy Halloween!