After scoping a number of websites on scoring the perfect jack-o-lantern, and all things gourd related this Halloween, here's a synopsis and consensus on what the experts say will enhance your pumpkin patch experience:

1.  Check the pumpkins for soft spots and signs of mold.  Don't forget to check underneath, and press on it with your thumbs.  If it gives a little, the pumpkin isn't fresh.

2.  Pumpkins continue to ripen and will get more orange after they're picked.  So choosing a lighter pumpkin NOW could give you a perfect deep orange one by Halloween.

3.  Look for one that has its handle or stem intact.  And a dark green stem is a sign it was picked recently, compared to a brown stem.

4.  Look for pumpkins with flat walls and no deep ribs . . . those are better for carving.  And skip the tall, oblong pumpkins, which typically have stringier flesh that makes precise cuts difficult.

5.  And once you think you've found the one, set it on a flat surface to be sure it sits upright.

Say Hi to Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin while you're out there...

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