How to Harvest Pumpkins Properly

To make sure your pumpkins last as long as possible, they must be harvested, cured, and stored properly.

A common mistake is to harvest fruit while it's still immature. This will give you fruit that can not be successfully stored, giving you poor quality results.

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On the other hand, keep in mind that mature fruit that have been removed from the vine are still alive, so proper curing and storage will slow the rate of respiration, and prolong the storage life of the pumpkin.

To harvest correctly, here is what you do:

  1. Harvest pumpkins when they have developed a deep uniform color, and have a hard rind. The rind will be firm and resist denting when pressed with a thumbnail.
  2. Harvest all mature pumpkins before a hard freeze. A light frost will destroy the vines and should not harm the fruit, but a hard freeze, can damage the fruit, so get your pumpkins in before damaging hard frosts arrive.
  3. When harvesting pumpkins handle them carefully to avoid cuts and bruises which can provide entrances for various rot-producing organisms.
  4. Cut the fruit off the vine with a pruning shears. Leave a 3 to 4 inch (7.6 – 10.2 cm) handle on the pumpkins. A pumpkin with a "handle" is not only more attractive, but they are less likely to rot when they are harvested with a portion of the stem still attached to the fruit.
  5. Try to never carry the fruit by their stems. The stems may not be able to support the weight and they may break off.
  6. After harvesting, cure the pumpkins at a temperature of 80 to 85° F (27 to 29° C) and at a relative humidity of 80 to 85 % for about 10 days.
  7. Curing helps to harden their skins and heal any cuts and scratches.
  8. After curing, store pumpkins in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. Storage temperatures should be 50 to 55° F (10 to 13° C).
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  10. Never store pumpkins near apples, pears, or other ripening fruit. Ripening fruit release ethylene gas which shortens the storage life of pumpkins.
  11. When storing pumpkins, place them in a single layer where they don't touch one another. Good air circulation helps to prevent moisture from forming on the surfaces of the fruit and helps prevent the growth of decay fungi and bacteria.
  12. Avoid placing pumpkins in piles. This generates unwanted heat which may result in the rotting of some fruit.
  13. Periodically check pumpkins in storage and get rid of any fruit which show signs of decay.

Properly cured and stored pumpkins should remain in good condition for 2 to 3 months or longer depending up on the variety.

If you follow the above steps, you will be assured a successful harvest, and you can use your pumpkins any way you want after that!

Source: http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/454137

By Mythi from Silverdale, WA

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August 28, 20070 found this helpful

I was just wondering what/or how do you cook pumpkins? I only know about roasting the seeds, but are there recipes and stuff you can make with fresh pumpkins?

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August 27, 20080 found this helpful

I open the pumpkin and roast the seeds with a variety of spicy flavors- chili pepper, cinnamon & sugar, the sky's the limit. BUT I cut them and simmer them in water until they get real soft and then after they cool, I pull the skin off and puree the rest. Basically that's pumpkin pie filling with no sugar added. Anytime a recipe calls for pumpkin, that's what I use. Most recipes call for 2 cups, so I freeze them in ziplocbags in 2c amounts. Stack them flat for better storage.

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September 7, 20080 found this helpful

My pumpkin was so pretty and it came off the vine when I was turning it after I watered so it would not rot. I took it to my kitchen and placed it on the table for a few days. When I cut into it I noticed that it was green around the edges by the seeds. Why was it green? Was it because it was not ripe or did I not use it fast enough.

thanks for your help.

Laura Cerabella

** I now have two new pumpkins growing and I do not want to make the same errors.

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