Pumpkin Secrets from TLC’s 'Little People, Big World' Star

Pumpkin farmer and star mom on Amy Roloff chats pumpkins

Amy Roloff cooking in her kitchen.

Running a business, managing a family, and maintaining a farm is a pretty big feat for any couple to take on. Add having your own TV show, charity foundation, and being marked as a "hero" for overcoming the odds, and it is enough to make your head spin. But Amy Roloff, half of that successful couple and the mom on TLC’S Little People, Big World, has risen to the occasion quite well. With the new season starting Oct. 29, the Roloffs are back with a season Amy promises will be a great one.

 "All of the kids were home and since they are older, family life changes a little more. A few more weddings that we've been able to share, and a few unknowns that you'll just need to watch to find out!"

No matter what role Roloff is playing, a huge passion of hers will always be her farm and the fresh ingredients she uses from it in her own kitchen. She recently sat down with us to chat about all things pumpkin and shared some great tips on using and choosing the right pumpkin for everything from décor to fresh recipes.

The Daily Meal: Tell me a little bit about your journey to being a pumpkin farmer and how it has changed you and your family's lives.
Amy Roloff: We moved to Oregon 23 years ago. First, we started out with keeping up the peach orchard that was already here. Then, we got into raspberries, and eventually pumpkins. We've been growing pumpkins for about 17 years, and the business has grown over the years.  A pumpkin crop seems easier to manage and much more family-orientated and friendly when people came out to get their pumpkins. Which, of course, I love — sharing the beauty and space we have loved on the farm for so many years. Of course, it has changed us because the farm is truly what unites and keeps us strong as a family.  We appreciate more about what other real farmers do and the hard work it takes to keep a family farm going. Plus, knowing where our food comes from is a plus, too — with our vegetable garden, eggs from our chickens, etc.

TDM: What is the best time to pick and carve a pumpkin for Halloween?
AR: I wish we could grow pumpkins all year long — but with a four-month (120 days approximately) growing time, maybe twice a year would be nice. Pumpkins, like most squash, will keep for a while if you store them in a cool dry place. I've had pumpkins I've picked in the beginning of October that are still good into November. However, once you carve it, it will start to decay after a few days, which is why we often wait until a few days before Halloween to carve them.

TDM: Do you have any useful carving tips?
AR: I'm a real simple carver. But during our pumpkin season we have a pumpkin carver who has come up with some really cool designs — a picture of Matt and I, a big "R" for Roloff, Halloween critters (i.e. cats, spiders, ghosts). I would call her very, very creative! Much more than I am, and she does it free-hand!

TDM:  How do you use pumpkins for your home décor?
AR: I have them placed around the outside of the house in groupings, on hay bales, with scarecrows, owls around, with fall leaves, sunflowers for decorations, and around my fireplace (without the fire going). The smaller ones we use for a table setting with fall leaf branches and candles. I am much more into the fall harvest than the scary Halloween decorations.


TDM: What was the best-looking pumpkin you and your family ever carved? Any funny memories or stories?
AR: The kids have often just done simple carvings and got more into the gooey stuff inside the pumpkins and the seeds. The scarier ones they thought they would carve usually ended up cutting away too much and would end up with only an eye or a mouth with one tooth. Sometimes, they would forget that we need "the top" and would discard that. My memories are how much we had fun carving but more so how messy we got. The farm gave us lots of space to do it outside.