‘Tis the season to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin for a variety of purposes, not the least of which is making a cute or horrific Jack ‘O Lantern.
Select a pumpkin that is completely orange. A partially green pumpkin might not ripen any further.
Size is an important factor. Medium pumpkins are best for pumpkin carving. Small pumpkins are better for cooking.
Do not pick a pumpkin that is too big for you to carry, especially if you have back problems.
Does the shade of orange matter? If so, there are hundreds of varieties, some with different shades of orange.
Selecting the shape is a matter of personal preference. Some like ‘‘em tall. Others, like ‘‘em round.
Often, people select shapes to fit the carving patterns they will use. Pick your pattern before you go.
Do not lift or carry a pumpkin by it’s stem. It will break off and the stem gives it character.
A ripe pumpkin has a hard shell that does not dent or scratch easily when pressing on it with a thumbnail. Do this on the back or bottom of the fruit… never on the face.
Examine the entire pumpkin carefully for soft spots. If you find even one soft spot, go on to the next pumpkin.
Check the pumpkin for cracks and splits. If you find one, examine it to be sure it is not turning into a soft spot or has mold inside of the crack.
Look for bugs and insects. Specifically, look for holes in the pumpkin, which are indicative of insect problems. Be careful of tiny white spiders. These can be scabies, and can cause you to itch horribly, and they’re contagious. Once at home, they get into all your upholstery and bedding. So seriously, wear gloves.
If you are out in the pumpkin patch picking a pumpkin:
Bring a small wagon with you. It’s easier to haul tired kids and pumpkins.
Wear boots or old sneakers. It could be wet and muddy in the pumpkin patch.
Pick a pumpkin that you can carry back with you.
If smaller children are carrying pumpkin, pick smaller pumpkins. Remember those little arms will probably get tired before reaching your car.
Bring a sharp knife or pruner.
Cut the vine on either side of the stem. After you get it home, you can trim off the remaining pieces of vine, and cut the stem at the perfect spot.