Going pumpkin picking at a local pumpkin patch near you is a fun-filled rite of the Fall season. Whether you go out to a field filled with big, bright, orange globes or get them from a roadside stand, we want to be certain that you get the very best pumpkins for carving Jack O’Lanterns, decorating, and eating! We’ve got plenty of pumpkin picking tips to assure you will select the perfect pumpkins. That’s right we used the plural. You can’t get just one, can you!?
When to pick pumpkins: Pumpkins are called “long keepers”. A healthy, uncarved Pumpkin can last to Thanksgiving and beyond. Pick pumpkins when they are ripe. Avoid fruit that is not yet completely orange. While it may ripen up in time for Halloween and decoration, it is not a sure thing. See How to Ripen Green Pumpkins.
Did you Know? Pumpkins become Jack O’Lanterns when they are carved.
Select pumpkins that are completely orange. A partially green pumpkin might not ripen any further.
Size is an important factor. Medium pumpkins are best for carving into a Jack O Lantern. Small pumpkins are better for cooking and baking.
Do not pick pumpkins that are too big for you to carry, especially if you have back problems.
Does the shade of orange matter? If so, there are hundreds of varieties and many different shades of orange. Some pumpkins are not orange at all. Pumpkin Colors.
Selecting the shape is a matter of personal preference. Some like ’em tall. Others, like ’em round.
Often, people select shapes to fit the carving patterns they will use. Pick your pattern before you go.
Never lift or carry a pumpkin by its stem. The stem gives it character.
A ripe pumpkin has a hard shell, that does not dent or scratch easily when pressing on it with a thumbnail. Do this on the back or bottom of the fruit…….never on the face.
Examine the entire pumpkin carefully for soft spots. If you find even one soft spot, go on to the next pumpkin.
Check the pumpkin for cracks and splits. If you find one, examine it to be sure it is not turning into a soft spot or has mold inside of the crack.
Look for bugs and insects. Specifically, look for holes in the pumpkin, which are indicative of insect problems.
Bring a small wagon with you to the pumpkin patch. It’s easier to haul tired kids and big pumpkins.
Wear boots or old sneakers. It could be wet and muddy patch.
Pick pumpkins that you can carry back with you.
If smaller children are carrying pumpkins, pick smaller ones. Remember those little arms will probably get tired before reaching your car.
Bring a sharp knife or pruner.
Cut the vine on either side of the stem. After you get it home, you can trim off the remaining pieces of vine, and cut the stem at the perfect spot.