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Five things you might not know about pumpkins this Halloween season

Oct. 22, 2013 at 5:22 a.m.

The First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch is filled with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes for the fall season. The patch is at 407 N. Bridge St.

Did you know

Pumpkin carving originated from an Irish folktale about "Stingy Jack," according to the History Channel website.

Legend has it Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but then didn't want to pay. He tricked the Devil into turning himself into a coin, but then pocketed the coin next to a cross so the Devil couldn't escape.

He later freed him under the condition the Devil wouldn't bother him for a year, and wouldn't take his soul when he died.

The next year, he tricked the Devil again, this time having him climb a tree to get fruit. While he was up there, Jack carved a cross into the trunk so the Devil couldn't come down until he promised not to bother Jack for another 10 years.

When Jack died, God wouldn't allow him into heaven, and the Devil didn't allow him into hell. Instead, the Devil sent him into the night with a burning coal to light his path, and Jack put that coal into a carved turnip.

Where to pick your pumpkin

A number of businesses throughout Victoria have pumpkins for sale. Those include:

• Dick's Food Store, 1302 E. Crestwood Drive

• First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch, 407 N. Bridge St.

• H-E-B, 1505 E. Rio Grande St.

• H-E-B Plus, 6106 N. Navarro St.

• Wal-Mart, 9002 N. Navarro St. and 4001 Houston Highway

Halloween is just around the corner, and that means searches for that perfect costume, stockpiles of candy awaiting trick-or-treaters and spooky movies making their way on to television broadcasts.

But for a season associated with sugar-coated sweets, there's still one fruit - the pumpkin - that remains a heavy holiday hitter.

Here, we offer up five things you might not know about pumpkins:

Not many people grow pumpkins in the Crossroads, but the fruit do grow in the Lone Star State. Crosby and Bailey counties play home to crops, for instance, while there are also a number of small patches in East Texas.

This year's crops seemed to have fared well in Texas - even with the drought - so long as they received supplemental water. That's likely because the heat wasn't as intense as in previous years. Heat can cause pumpkin flowers to abort and fall off.

When it comes to picking out the best pumpkin, go for one without any nicks or cuts, as such issues are more likely to lead to infection and disease. Also, look for one with a good, strong handle, as it's less likely to spoil quickly.

Pumpkins don't like moisture. The drier you keep them, the longer they will last.

There are numerous suggestions for keeping a carved jack-o'-lantern fresh. Fruit and vegetable anti-browning solutions, which are available at supermarkets, are one option. Another is to dip the pumpkin in a mixture of water and bleach - one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water - and, once dry, brush the pumpkin with a solution of two tablespoons vinegar, a teaspoon of lemon juice and a quart of water.

Sources: Russell Wallace, extension vegetable specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock,First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch information sheet



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