How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

Pumpkins are widely used as decorations during the fall season, as they represent the harvest, but you probably associate them with Halloween the most.

With the Halloween holiday around the corner, it’s important to choose the right pumpkins AND know how to store them – no one wants rotten pumpkins staining the porch or stinking up the house just as it’s getting cold outside.

In this episode of Homegrown, Penny Perkins-Veazie, a researcher in postharvest physiology with NC State – she studies what happens to fruits and vegetables after they’ve been harvested – shares her tips and tricks on which types of pumpkins work best for your jack-o-lanterns and how to safekeep them to make the most out of your decorations.

Perkins-Veazie details several types and iterations of this vibrant vegetable, all of which can be used in many different ways. Some pumpkins are best used for ornamental purposes, others are mostly used for cooking, and some could be used for both!

What To Do Once You’ve Chosen a Pumpkin

If you need a pumpkin and are still looking for that most sincere patch, try the N.C. Pumpkins page from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Once you’ve found the perfect pumpkin for your front steps, it’s time to start carving. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Have a plan – Pumpkins are sturdy, so you can take a bit of time deciding on what kind of design you want. You can print a stencil or draw it free-hand on your pumpkin.
  • Pick your tools – You can go the conventional way and buy a pumpkin carving tool, but most of the time you can find appropriate tools around your own home. Paring knives, fruit zesters, sculpting tools and big spoons are all great for carving and shaping.
  • Be clean and safe – Make sure to lay down a piece of newspaper and wear protective gloves if you will be handling sharp knives.
  • Scoop everything out – Don’t leave any seeds inside the pumpkin. Once you start carving it’s important to scrape the walls because if not, the pumpkin might start to mold quicker!
  • Have fun! – After all, being creative and carving your own, personal design is the fun part. So gather with friends and family and get carving!

Can I Grow Pumpkins at Home?

Download the Growing Pumpkins and Winter Squash guide from NC State Extension to learn more about what’s involved and how to get started growing your own pumpkins. Good luck!