Whether you’re heading to a pumpkin patch or perusing our outdoor décor section at Summerhill Market, choosing the perfect pumpkin is more than just finding your favourite shape. Here are some tips straight from our produce department:
1. Look for a pumpkin that has a deep orange color. That means it’s perfectly ripened. Psssst….did you know that white pumpkins are known as ghost pumpkins and the flesh is suitable for eating?
2. Knock on the pumpkin to check that it is hollow (and therefore ripe). The louder the sound the better (just like a watermelon).
3. Make sure the bottom of the pumpkin isn’t soft and mushy! Also, the bottom should be relatively flat so it doesn’t roll over in your display or after carving.
4. Never pick a pumpkin up by the stem. It may break, which leads to faster decay (it’s not a handle despite temptation).
5. Look for a smooth surface if you’re carving it up. It will be much easier and the heirloom variety (with the cool bumps and wrinkles work better as a natural fall décor)!
6. The stem should be dark green and NOT dried out. A cut stem acts like a wick that seeps water from the inside out of the pumpkin, leading to faster shriveling if it’s already dry.
7. Skin should be firm. When pumpkins are ready to harvest, their skin turns leathery and firm. Give the skin a gentle poke with your fingernail. If it springs right back or doesn’t give at all, you know you’ve found one at its peak.
8. Beware of bumps and bruises. Once a pumpkin is “injured” it starts to decay. So even if you find your ideal shape or stature, simply turning it so the blemish faces the back won’t help you much. A wounded pumpkin will rot quickly. So if you need it to last, look for one that doesn’t have any punctures.
9. Heirloom pumpkins (with unique characteristics such as deep ribs, bumps and random colours) make them more suitable for fall displays and less appealing to carve.
10. Try to keep them cool (but don’t let the frost get to them) and avoid carving until close to Halloween. As soon as a pumpkin is cut, it will start to decay quite quickly.