Tips to pick your perfect pumpkin
The Great Gourd Search
Fall has officially begun. Tennesseans are now focused on purchasing fall décor from local farmers and bringing autumn color into and around their homes. Pumpkins and hard squashes are temporary treasures, so it’s important to choose produce that won’t decay before fall’s festivities have passed. Fortunately, it’s easy to spot good pumpkins.
The Shape or size
The shape or size of a pumpkin has no bearing on how long it will last. Look for pumpkins with stems that are green, firmly attached, and at least one inch long. Brown, withered stems, stems coming off or absent from the fruit, or stems cut too closely leave pumpkins vulnerable to the elements. If a stem has fallen off it means the pumpkin is already starting to decay. Never pick up or carry a pumpkin by the stem because detaching it affects its longevity.
Inspect the whole pumpkin carefully before buying it. A pumpkin that is withering, moldy, or has soft spots is already decomposing. On the other hand, if a pumpkin still has a touch of green or a few warts, it’s fine. Warts on pumpkins don’t cause any harm to the quality of the fruit, and in fact may be seen as adding character to future Jack O’ Lanterns.
More Tips to pick your perfect pumpkin
Pumpkin patches are often found in close proximity to apple orchards. Picking pumpkins to eat or decorate the home is a popular autumn activity, one that families often enjoy together.
When visiting a pumpkin patch, dress accordingly. That means wearing shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as the patch may be muddy. Layer clothing in case it is a chilly day. Breezes are more pronounced in open fields.
Pumpkins are “long-keepers,” which means if they are uncut or not damaged, they can last for several weeks. This means you can pick pumpkins at the same time as apples. When selecting a pumpkin, look for one that is completely orange. After picking, a green or yellow pumpkin may never ripen to orange.
Bring along a small wagon and knife so that you can cut the vine, if necessary. Pumpkins are heavy, and a wagon will come in handy, especially with youngsters in tow.
Ripe pumpkins should not dent easily. Examine your pumpkin for holes or insects, which could indicate internal rot that greatly reduces the shelf life of the pumpkin. Remember, carving the pumpkin reduces its life expectancy, so be sure to reserve that task until close to Halloween.
If you desire a pumpkin to turn into a baked treat or other dish, you will need a type of small, sweet cooking pumpkin known as a “sugar pumpkin.” The meat of this pumpkin is much less stringy and more smooth than decorative pumpkin varieties.
Autumn is the season for pumpkin-picking. This is a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors with the family. If possible, visit an orchard on a weekday, when the crowds will be much smaller than during prime fall weekends.
Find Local Farms & Farmers
Find local farms and farmers markets with pumpkins and other fall décor with the Pick Tennessee mobile app and online at www.PickTnproducts.org . Pick Tennessee Products is a service of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help connect farmers directly to their customers. Follow Pick Tennessee on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates about seasonal products and activities.
Press Release compliments of Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development Division. More Tips compliments of Metro Creative.