Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

Fall is in the air and it's time to find that perfect pumpkin to carve, decorate or display on your front porch. No matter what kind of pumpkin you want - big or small, smooth or bumpy, tall or squat - you want it to last as long as possible.

Here are a few tips to follow for picking the perfect pumpkin:

  • Don't use the stem as a handle. Because pumpkins grow on vines and rest on the ground, the stem is not meant to support the pumpkin's weight. If the stem feels loose, bends or breaks, move on and find another pumpkin. A healthy pumpkin will have a brittle, scratchy stem. If the color of your pumpkin is dull around the stem, this might be a warning of frost damage and a sign of a shorter shelf life.
  • Check for soft spots. Even if the pumpkin looks pristine on the surface, a soft spot is an indicator of decay and should be avoided. Visible bruising, blemishes and irregular spots are also a bad sign since even the smallest cracks can lead to a rotting pumpkin. Cuts and scratches can also be a sign of mold and burrowed bugs. Try knocking on the outside of a pumpkin when you're inspecting it - a ripe pumpkin will make a hollow sound.
  • Pick the right kind of pumpkin. Pumpkins come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. While medium-sized pumpkins are best for carving, smaller sized pumpkins are better for cooking.
  • Shop around. Pumpkin picking from a farm or patch is advantageous because the pumpkins haven't been damaged from moving around during shipments to the supermarket. When selecting from a patch, your pumpkin is fresh from the field. Make sure to clean your pumpkin with a disinfecting wipe to remove any remaining dirt and bacteria. To help your pumpkin shine on Halloween, gently apply a cooking spray to its exterior for an eye-catching glow.