How to Pick the Best Pumpkin at the Patch

It doesn't get much better than pumpkin picking when the air turns crisp. Before you head to the pumpkin farm this fall season, use our helpful tips to stay away from the rotten ones.

There's always the good, the bad, and the ugly—even in pumpkins. Pumpkins come in all different shapes and sizes; there are round ones, petite ones, stumpy ones, tall ones, and even lumpy ones. With so many pumpkin varieties and characteristics, it's hard to tell what pumpkin is the best bang for your buck. Pumpkin picking just got easier—use our tips to pick the best pumpkin in the whole patch.

Know Where to Go

Skip the line at the grocery store! Go to a pumpkin farm. While it may be convenient to pick up a few pumpkins along with this week's groceries, there's a good chance these pumpkins aren't in the best shape. In their trip from the farm to the grocery store, these pumpkins were probably rolling around in the bed of a truck and were handled by multiple people. Plus, who knows how long those pumpkins have been sitting out at the store. Get your pumpkin straight from the source, skipping all bumps and bruises in transport.

Related: Growing Perfect Pumpkins

Pay Attention to Color

The color of your pumpkin can tell you a lot about it—the darker the color, the better the pumpkin. A dark orange pumpkin is in its prime stages for picking. On the other hand, a pumpkin that is pale and yellow likely won't hold up for much longer. Pay attention to the stem as well—a dark green stem validates that a pumpkin is ready to be harvested.

Make Sure It's Hollow

Just like watermelons, the best pumpkins to pick have a deep, hollow sound when you tap them. To test for a good one, hold the underbelly of the pumpkin with your hand, place your ear next to the pumpkin, and knock on its side with your knuckles. If you hear an echoing, hollow sound, it's a good one. The louder the sound, the better the pumpkin.

Related: Easy Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Firmness is Key

No one wants a mushy pumpkin. Carefully test it with your finger and be sure that the flesh does not give in. Soft spots are a key sign that the pumpkin won't last much longer—the decaying process has begun. This goes for the stem, too. Squeeze the stem to test its firmness. If the stem is soft to the touch, it's not an ideal pick.

Don't Ignore Wounds

Open cuts in your pumpkin are just like human cuts—once open, they're prone to infection. Choose a pumpkin that appears to have no scrapes, bruises, or holes on its surface. Open cuts (even once it's carved) will cause it to rot faster than if your pumpkin was fully intact.

Related: How to Make Your Pumpkin Last Longer

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