The great gourd search

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tips to pick your perfect pumpkin

NASHVILLE -- Fall has officially begun. Tennesseans are now focused on purchasing fall décor from local farmers and bringing autumn color into and around their homes. Pumpkins and hard squashes are temporary treasures, so it’s important to choose produce that won’t decay before fall’s festivities have passed. Fortunately, it’s easy to spot good pumpkins.

The shape or size of a pumpkin has no bearing on how long it will last. Look for pumpkins with stems that are green, firmly attached, and at least one inch long. Brown, withered stems, stems coming off or absent from the fruit, or stems cut too closely leave pumpkins vulnerable to the elements. If a stem has fallen off it means the pumpkin is already starting to decay. Never pick up or carry a pumpkin by the stem because detaching it affects its longevity.

Inspect the whole pumpkin carefully before buying it. A pumpkin that is withering, moldy, or has soft spots is already decomposing. On the other hand, if a pumpkin still has a touch of green or a few warts, it’s fine. Warts on pumpkins don’t cause any harm to the quality of the fruit, and in fact may be seen as adding character to future Jack O’ Lanterns.

Find local farms and farmers markets with pumpkins and other fall décor with the Pick Tennessee mobile app and online at Pick Tennessee Products is a service of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help connect farmers directly to their customers. Follow Pick Tennessee on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates about seasonal products and activities.