When you pluck a pumpkin from the patch, you want to make sure it’s the best one in the field, right? It can be a little intimidating, though, to have so much to choose from and you want to make sure that pumpkin will last the season (or at least make for a solid jack-o-lantern).
Pumpkin rinds first need to cure by sunbathing for several weeks to harden and to boost shelf life, which is why you see them sprawled out in farm fields. Usually that step is taken care of for you, unless you’re growing your own pumpkin patch. Once you set your sights on a pumpkin farm, here are four other things to keep in mind so that you can pick the best pumpkin:
- Firmness is key. You should be able to dent—but not puncture—the rind with your thumbnail.
- Two signs of a healthy pumpkin are a uniformly deep orange color and a 1- to 2-inch stem.
- Practice good squash care and hold a pumpkin in your hands, not by its stem.
- Choose a pumpkin that sits upright on a flat surface. It’ll be easy to carve or decorate.
Happy pumpkin picking!
(Read more: 5 Fascinating Facts About Pumpkins)