How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin-1

Nothing says fall quite like the delightful and cheerful sight of pumpkins ornamenting the exterior of just about every store around town and home in your neighborhood!

But, how exactly do you pick the perfect pumpkin?

Though beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, we have 11 tried-and-true tips to help you choose the right pumpkin for you:

1. Consider Your Purpose

First things first: determine the purpose of your pumpkins.

Do you have big plans to carve a magnificent jack-o'-lantern? Perhaps you want to bake a delectable pumpkin pie? Or, maybe you have dreams of a dazzling Thanksgiving tablescape? It will come as no surprise that the purpose of your pumpkins will determine what type of pumpkin you should buy.

For example, if you're carving, you'll want a different type of pumpkin than if you're using it for cooking or decorating.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • If carving a jack-o'-lantern, select a large, uniform-shaped pumpkin for plenty of canvas to create a masterpiece
  • If you are baking a pie, choose a small, heavy pie pumpkin from the store.
  • If you are decorating your porch or table, consider what colors, shapes, and heights will tickle your fancy both aesthetically and practically.

2. Find a Nice Selection

Don't limit yourself to what you find outside your neighborhood grocery store. Instead, consider visiting a local pumpkin patch or farm to support local businesses and simultaneously get access to a vast selection of pumpkins. Plus, it makes for a fun outing!

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3. Explore Varieties

There are various pumpkin varieties, including carving pumpkins, pie pumpkins, and ornamental pumpkins.

For instance, carving pumpkins are typically larger and have thinner walls, making them easier to carve, while pie pumpkins are smaller and have sweeter, denser flesh for baking.

4. Evaluate Size

Consider the size you need. Larger pumpkins are better for carving (more surface area to create a masterpiece!), while smaller pumpkins are better for cooking.

If you're grabbing a few for your Thanksgiving table-scape, you probably don't want a massive one that'll block your view across the table!

5. Consider Shape

Look for a pumpkin with a shape that suits your needs. For carving, a round and symmetrical shape is preferable. For decorating, unique shapes and colors can be very fun and eye-catching!

6. Pick a Color

For carving, the traditional orange color is most popular for jack o’ lanterns. However, decorative pumpkins come in a variety of colors, including white, green, and even striped varieties. For cooking, choose pumpkins with a deep, orange color, which indicates pristine ripeness.

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7. Examine the Surface

The surface of your pumpkin should be firm and free from cracks, soft spots, mold, or blemishes. If you observe any soft spots, mold, or blemishes, it's best to pass on that pumpkin! Any softness is a sign of decay.

Pro tip: Gently press your fingers into the pumpkin. If the pumpkin feels soft, skip it and find one that is firm.

8. Check the Stem

A green, sturdy stem indicates freshness. Avoid pumpkins with a dried or brittle stem.

9. Inspect the Bottom

It's easy to examine the visible parts of a pumpkin, but don't forget to check the bottom of the pumpkin for any soft spots or signs of rot.

10. Test the Sound

Give the pumpkin a gentle thump with your knuckles or finger, similar to how you test the ripeness of a watermelon. A hollow sound is a great indicator of ripeness.

11. Ask for Assistance

If you're unsure about choosing a pumpkin, don't hesitate to ask for assistance from a store employee or the owner of the patch. They can provide guidance based on your needs!

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Ultimately, the best pumpkin is the one that meets your unique needs, whether it's for carving, cooking, or decorating. Take your time to examine and choose a pumpkin that suits your intended purpose and looks healthy and appealing!

When you've picked your favorite(s), consider this your friendly reminder to carry the pumpkin in your arms rather than the stem to avoid breakage.

Happy Fall!

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