Halloween is still weeks away, but it's pumpkin season and we can't help but feel the itch to carve a jack-o-lantern. We'll be patient and wait a couple of weeks, but just in case we end up pulling out our Pumpkin Cutters early, let's review some tips on choosing the perfect pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern and ways to preserve it through Halloween.• Pick a pumpkin with a stem that is at least 2 inches long. Pumpkins with shorter stems or without a stem don't last as long. Never carry a pumpkin by its stem -- it may fall of and leave you with a smashed pumpkin!
• Unless you're going for another look, choose a pumpkin with a flat bottom so it will stand upright.
• Check the pumpkin for cuts, bruises, and holes, since these will cause the pumpkin to rot prematurely.
• Lighter colored pumpkins are easier to carve, but darker orange ones keep longer because their skin is thicker.
• Store pumpkins in a cool place until ready to carve.
• Before carving, wash the pumpkin with warm water to remove excess dirt and let it dry thoroughly.
• After carving, spray the pumpkin with a mild bleach solution, which will help prevent mold from forming.
• Coat the cut areas of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly.