How to Pick a Pumpkin That Won’t Rot Right Away

(NEXSTAR) – Nothing dampens the mood of an early fall afternoon like discovering your pumpkins are prematurely rotting on the porch.

Well, that, or finding out you’re out of limited-edition pumpkin spice-scented trash bags. This is also a real disappointment.

Choosing a hardy pumpkin isn’t exactly rocket science, but there are a few steps people can take to ensure a longer-lasting squash, according to Dr. Rebecca Nelson Brown, chair of plant sciences and entomology at Rhode University. Island.

“The key here is you want the pumpkin to be as fresh as possible. And that means buying a locally grown pumpkin, not a supermarket pumpkin that was picked a month before it showed up at the store.

Brown, who directs URI’s crop program and teaches its field production classes, has extensive experience with pumpkins. She even led the university’s “Pumpkin Project,” designed to address problems faced by farmers working near major metropolitan areas.

Part of the Pumpkin Project was also about the consumer, with Brown and his students — along with a volunteer team of master gardeners — hoping to determine what types of pumpkins would last the longest outside their front door.

The results, however, were not that varied.

“What we found was that there was really no difference in how long the pumpkins would last on people’s porches,” Brown said, telling Nexstar that most “classes of pumpkins market” (i.e. the rounder orange carved pumpkins commonly associated with Halloween) in general. Lasted a little over a month before rotting.

This one, however, has a certain undeniable charm. (Getty Images)

But that’s only if you start with a good specimen from a local source. Brown recommended purchasing one from a nearby grower to ensure freshness. And consumers should examine the stems, she said, to make sure they aren’t already limp, dried out or shriveled, but rather firm, greenish-black and well-cut. Stems that aren’t cut as cleanly — whether they’re broken or torn — are essentially a “wound that bacteria can get into,” Brown said.

Premature rotting is also almost guaranteed once the pumpkin is carved.

“Any pumpkin, once you cut it, it’s not going to last very long,” Brown said. “Which makes sense, because you take this moist, fairly high sugar vegetable and you poke holes in it. And when you do that, you’re inviting the mushrooms in, and they’re going to rot. »

Homeowners should also bring pumpkins indoors when temperatures drop below freezing — whether they’re carved or not — because they “turn into a pile of mush” once thawed, Brown said.

And at this point, those pumpkins will look better in your pumpkin spice-scented trash bags than on your porch.

The easiest solution, Brown says, is to put your pumpkins out whole in early October, then carve them up right before Halloween.

“Or, if you want something that lasts longer, you can paint it,” she suggested.


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