Pumpkin Pandemonium in McKinney: Braces-Friendly Edition

Autumn is the season of harvest, traditionally a time when farmers get to reap the fruits of their labor from spring and summer. Our favorite places to visit these days are the local pumpkin patches in McKinney. We love jumping in piles of leaves, riding around in wagons, and picking out ripe pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Pumpkins are also the perfect food for anyone with braces because they’re naturally soft and they can be cooked into tons of delicious recipes. And when you’re done carving out the flesh, you can make a spooky decoration for your front porch! To get into the spirit of the season, we’re sharing the ultimate braces-friendly guide to getting the most out of your pumpkins this year.

Where to Find Pumpkin Patches in McKinney

Not sure where the best pumpkin patches are in McKinney? We can help! There are tons of pumpkin patches in and around the McKinney area. Here are our favorites:

Pumpkin Patch at Chestnut Square 315 S Chestnut St, McKinney, TX 75069

The Historic Village of Chestnut Square normally hosts community gatherings and events, such as farmer’s markets and farm-to-table dinners. For the month of October, however, you can also peruse a huge selection of pumpkins every Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. We recommend coming early to get the cream of the crop!

Storybook Ranch 3701 S. Custer Rd, McKinney, TX 75070

From September 29 – October 31, Storybook Ranch is hosting a pumpkin patch fundraiser. Admission is $15 per child and $5 per adult. While you’re scrutinizing the pumpkins, make sure to check out the fun activities they have scheduled, too! Storybook Ranch has a hay maze, pony ride, petting zoo, bounce houses, wagon rides, and unlimited pumpkins to look at!

Sally’s Pumpkin Patch 967 W Princeton Dr, Princeton, TX 75407

If you’re on the way to Lavon Lake, stop by Sally’s Pumpkin Patch and check out the vast array of pumpkins they have to offer. The lovely people who work at Sally’s offer much more than your average field pumpkins, they also have Blue, Cinderella, Porcelain Doll Pink, Cheese pumpkins and more. Just take a quick detour off 380 on the highway and you’ll find yourself in pumpkin paradise. They also sell other fresh produce and honey as well!

Pumpkin Dunk 3003 Alma Rd, McKinney, TX 75070

Sick of regular pumpkin patches? On Saturday, October 27, the Apex Centre is hosting a Pumpkin Dunk. You heard right! It’s a floating pumpkin patch and kids can come dive for their favorite pumpkins for just $10. There will also be decorating supplies to paint the pumpkin and a goodie bag to take home.

Pumpkin Village 1800 S. Stonebridge Dr, McKinney, TX 75072

Stoneridge United Methodist Church opens their doors to pumpkin lovers Monday through Thursday, from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Sundays, from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Pumpkin prices are based on their size and weight, but don’t let that stop you from picking up the most fearsome one from the patch!

Pumpkins on the Prairie 3521 Main St., Frisco 75034

Pumpkin lovers will rejoice at Pumpkins on the Prairie at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church. They’re open from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM on weekdays and 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM on the weekends. After you’ve loaded your cart with pumpkins, they also have pretty awesome activities. You can get a face painting, enjoy a hayride, go through the maze, or even launch pumpkins from a catapult (a very literal take on Smashing Pumpkins)!

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How to Find the Perfect Pumpkin

Now that you’ve made your way to a pumpkin patch, it’s time to get to work! If you’ve never been to a pumpkin patch, you might be overwhelmed by the incredible number of pumpkins available. Even if they all look similar, they’re definitely not all the same. The right pumpkin is out there, you just need to find it! Follow these tips to pick out the ideal pumpkin:

  • Check for squishy spots. Pumpkin might be a type of squash, but it should definitely not be squashed. Make sure there are no areas on the pumpkin that are sunken in or squishy because that could be a sign that it’s rotting inside. By the time the end of the month rolls around, you don’t want it to be rotten or attracting flies. 
  • Get a handle on. On your pumpkin, that is. Pumpkins with thick, long handles are much easier to transport to the car because they allow you to grip the fruit more easily. It’ll definitely help if you choose a large pumpkin.
  • Orange is the new black. Actually, orange is the new everything when it comes to picking pumpkins. Pumpkins that are too brown, green, or yellow can signal that something’s wrong.
  • Bottom’s up! Check the bottom of the pumpkin to make sure it’s flat enough to stand on its own. This will make carving it out much easier and help it stand on its own as a decoration.

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How to Carve Jack O’ Lanterns

Over the years, jack-o-lanterns have only gotten more complex and interesting. Some of the carvings we see nowadays are unrecognizable because they’re just that amazing! Whether you plan on creating a classic scary face or etching an intricate design, here are a few important steps to take first:

  1. Set up your studio. Before you get into the nitty-gritty of things, make sure you have your workspace set up. Grab old magazines or newspapers and set them up in an area that’s easy to clean. This means preferable no carpeted areas, just outdoors, concrete, wood, or tile. You’ll also want plenty of light, so you know can see what you’re doing.
  2. Remove the stem. Next, cut off the stem, so you can access the inside of the pumpkin.
  3. Scoop out pumpkin meat. Once the stem is removed, try to remove all of the seeds and flesh inside. You don’t want it rotting away and attracting flies before Halloween night. Plus, there are lots of tasty treats you can whip up with the pumpkins that we’ve included below.
  4. Draw your design. Time to get creative! There are tons of cool characters, scenes, or even words you can make.
  5. Carve it out. Finally, grab a sharp knife and carefully carve out your design. Remember, less is more. You can always adjust and carve things out more later, but you can’t really add the pieces that have been removed once you’ve cut them out.
  6. Light a candle. Add the finishing touch your jack-o-lantern by lighting a candle inside your pumpkin. You can close it at the top if you save your stem.

For young children, painting pumpkins can be just as fun and creative as carving them. There are tons of paints, glitter, rhinestones, googly eyes, cobwebs, and other accessories they can add to personalize the pumpkins. At Painting with a Twist on Hardin Boulevard, kids in the McKinney community can learn how to paint with an instructor free! Children 5 – 12 can bring a pumpkin to decorate. The class provides tons of materials and tools for decorating. It takes place from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM on Monday, October 22, so book your seats before they fill up. Regardless of how you choose to decorate the pumpkins, we’re sure they’ll make great additions to your home for Halloween. 

What to Make with Pumpkins

Now that you’ve carved out your pumpkins, it’s time to make good use of them! The pumpkin flesh and seeds should be fairly easy to scoop out. Here are our favorite braces-friendly pumpkin delicacies, how to make them, and where you can get them in McKinney. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Yes, it’s basic, but it’s also delicious. Pumpkin spice lattes have become a staple holiday drink and they’re actually quite easy to make. According to this recipe, all you really need is pureed pumpkin, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, coffee, and pumpkin spice seasoning (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice). When you fix your own drink instead of ordering it from a cafe, you can easily control the sugar content, making it much healthier.

If you have braces, we recommend brushing your teeth after you enjoy this velvety drink. Even though it might not seem so dark because of all the added ingredients, it still has the same amount of tannins present. It’s really easy for coffee to stick and stain the area around the brackets, so make sure to scrub it off. Better yet, you can serve your latte iced if it’s warm outside and drink it through a reusable straw!

Snug on the Square on Kentucky Square also serves their Pumpkin Love-U-Lattes year round if you find yourself craving a one out of season. And of course, there are tons of Starbucks sprinkled throughout McKinney have already put pumpkin spice lattes back on the menu.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a rich, decadent, creamy dessert that can easily be served hot or cold. If you have braces, we know you’re agonizing over the thought of passing up on all that Halloween candy, but at least you can have as much pumpkin pie as your heart desires! Does that help at all? Nothing is better than the taste of fresh pumpkin, so here’s a recipe for no-bake pumpkin pie that you can have ready just moments after you lug your giant pumpkins home from the patch. Our favorite pumpkins to use for this dish are Sugar, Jarrahdale, and Cheese pumpkins.

If you have other plans for your pumpkins but still want to enjoy a luscious slice of pie, you can pick up a slice from Emporium Pies on Tennessee Street in McKinney. They have multiple locations throughout Dallas and they offer a tasty selection of handmade pies. Their “Drop Dead Gourdgeous” is made of pumpkin custard with a crumbly gingerbread crust. Yum!

Pumpkin Bread

Unlike pumpkin pie, the joys of pumpkin bread can actually be enjoyed all the time, not just as a dessert. That’s why it’s important to make sure you get your batch of bread just right. We know a lot of people like adding nuts and raisins to their pumpkin bread, but we actually don’t recommend doing that. If you have braces, it’s easy to pop a bracket or break a wire on a chewy raisin or stubborn nut. Anyway, you’ll be able to savor the pure pumpkin goodness a lot better without the extra add-ons.

During the months of fall, most local grocery store bakeries are also carrying loaves of pumpkin bread, too. The Donut Kitchen is a local donuttery in McKinney, TX, that also serves seasonal pumpkin spice donuts if you want another sweet, pumpkin flavored treat.

Image result for pumpkin soupPumpkin Soup

When your mouth is sore from getting your braces tightened, try a bowl of squash soup! Unbeknownst to many, pumpkin is a type of squash and it tastes just as fabulous savory as it does sweet. Though squash soups are typically made with butternut squash, we think pumpkin has a unique texture and flavor that makes for an equally appetizing meal. Check out this awesome recipe for pumpkin soup that requires minimal effort.

In downtown McKinney, Spoons Cafe serves a hot pumpkin soup that’ll fill you right up. We love going there when we run out of our own pumpkins. It’s the perfect side for their signature McKinney sandwich, which is loaded with fresh ingredients like turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, cream cheese, and more.

Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

Though you can’t enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds with your braces, there are other ways to make use of all those seeds inside your pumpkin. By grinding them up, you can make a potent, all-natural protein powder that you can add to any smoothie for extra nutrients. Pumpkin seeds also contain healthy omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. They really pack a punch and they can help you do so, too!

When you’re too tired to go through all the trouble of creating your own protein powder, we’ve got your back. At the McKinney Jamba Juice on University Drive, you can order a Pumpkin Harvest Protein Smoothie packed with pumpkin, whey protein, chia seeds, almond milk, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and banana.

Now that you know everything you’ve ever needed to about pumpkin season in McKinney, you’re set for the holidays. Pumpkins are such a versatile fruit and they’re something everyone can enjoy, including those with braces. If you’re curious about what other activities are available this month, we’ve compiled a list of things to do for Halloween in McKinney. We’ve got the inside scoop on all the festivities in town!

Dr. Dan is a pediatric dentist and orthodontist at Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry in McKinney. Drop by our orthodontic office in McKinney if you or your loved ones need to schedule a dental appointment.