How can you tell that a pumpkin is ripe? Tips and tricks


Pumpkins are a popular no question about it. Many of us plant pumpkins for consumption but also to be able to create spooky heads for Halloween … Children are very excited when they can help you carve pumpkins, but they tend to be less excited when they have to eat the pumpkin. Pumpkins are great and healthy but many of us may still have hard time to tell when pumpkin is actually ripe.

When can you harvest pumpkins?

Well, the good produces and vendors of pumpkin seeds wrote a very important note on the bag – harvest when ripe. Wow! What a great piece of information! Ripe pumpkins look great and taste great, and properly ripe pumpkins can be stored for longer than overripe or unripe ones, but the bag does not say how can you actually tell when pumpkins are properly ripe. So, we searched and searched. Generally speaking, if you want your pumpkins to be rather small then you tend harvest when they reach a “specific” size but that does not mean that they are ripe. If you want smaller pumpkings, buy a variety that produces small pumpkins. Do not harvest unripe pumpkins just because they have reached the size that suits you…

What does a ripe pumpkin actually look like?

When a pumpkin is ripe, it has a firm, dark-coloured skin (usually orange, sometimes kind of brindle orange, but you will also find green or black pumpkins!). When you tap the skin with your finger it should produce a hollow sound. The skin should be hard enough on touch. Try pushing a nail into the skin; if you cannot pierce it easily, it is ripe. Always handle a ripe pumpkin gently. You can easily damage a ripe pumpkin.


Photo: Pixabay

So, when should you harvest?

First, choose a sunny day. You should harvest when the plant has dried out and the skin of the pumpkins is hard enough. Cut the fruit (yes fruit) off with a sharp knife or better yet, use gardening shears, because working with them is safer and may be even faster. Don’t cut the stem too close to the pumpkin. Notice that pumpkins you buy in supermarkets also have a stem so, leave about 7.5 to 10 centimetres of stem. The longer the stem, the longer you may be able to store pumpkins.

Do not store immediately!

Do not immediately store pumpkins in a cellar or at the storage place. If possible, leave your pumpkins out in the sun for another week or so. The skin will harden even more and this will further extend the shelf life.. After that, transfer your pumpkins to a cool and dry place where the temperature is around 13 °C.

Tips for a bigger harvest

Did your pumpkin plant produce many stems and flowers, but hardly any pumpkins? Well, most likely it did not get pollinated properly. You need to attract bees – there are fruit trees that bees love and like to pollinate, or plant certain plants that attract bees near the pumpkins.

Save seeds for next year

You don’t have to buy pumpkin seeds every year. You can use seeds from your own pumpkins. The healthy ones of course. Dry them and store them. If stored properly, you can store them for up to six years!

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *