Choose the perfect pumpkin to make sure it is fresh and ‘long-lasting’

Customer compares pumpkin prices at every main supermarket

Pumpkin season is now upon us and Halloween is just around the corner, so there is no better time to pick out the perfect one. 

Most people are buying the traditional decorative vegetable from either a supermarket or a local farmer’s pumpkin patch, but as is the case with most produce, there’s a catch.  

Like all fresh foods, pumpkins can rot and spoil if you do not know what to look out for when picking yours up. If your selection is on the tail end of its shelf life, it can go soft, smell and even begin leaking liquid before you even get use out of it. 

Luckily gardening expert Michael Griffins knows a great deal about harvesting pumpkins – and has explained what you need to know to keeping yours perfect and fresh for much longer this October. 

In a video online, Michael said: “Autumn is time for pumpkin picking but don’t pick the wrong one. Selecting good quality produce will ensure that your autumn display will be long-lasting.

Read more: Make a Boo Basket this fall to have a spooktacular Halloween

How to pick a fresh pumpkin

Look carefully at the stem

If you go to a store or are lucky enough to go to a pumpkin patch, make sure to study the skin for any bumps and bruises before you select it. 

Michael said: “Look closely at the flesh, you don’t want pumpkins to have cracks, splits, soft spots, or sunken areas. Particularly check around the bottom of the stem. A fresh pumpkin has a firm rind.”

Do the scratch test

You can easily test the maturity of a pumpkin to see if you can scratch it easily.

Michael explained: “Test the maturity of your pumpkin by gently pressing your fingernails into the rinds. A mature pumpkin will resist scratching. “

If the skin is soft and easily penetrated, that is also an indication that it has began ripening and will not last until Halloween.

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Test the stem 

If the stem of a pumpkin is bright green, then it is a sign it is very fresh – while a dry or shrivelled stem means the pumpkin is old. 

However, once you have picked your pumpkin,  handle the stem with great care.

Michael said: “Carry it in your arms, not by the stem. The stalk is not a built-in handle. Once the stalk breaks, decay is not far behind.”

Know the purpose

Before you go pumpkin-picking, you should decide if it will be in your kitchen and used to make some delicious autumn meals, or if you are going to carve it to use as decoration for your doorstep. 

Those looking for a decorative pumpkin will be looking for a bigger size, while those looking for a cooking pumpkin would be better aiming for the tastiest.

Michael explained: “If you plan on carving a jack o’lantern select a large uniformed shaped pumpkin to maximise your creativity. 

“If you’re making pumpkin pie, then choose small heavy fruit sometimes labelled as pie pumpkins or pumpkin squash as they contain the most pulp.” 

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