Pumpkins. They're coming out of our ears at the WBGC. In communal and personal plots, pumpkins of many varieties are expanding like balloons in the autumnal dew. Gardeners across the temperate region are patiently waiting next to ovens, ready to turn the knob to gas mark 6: roast.
But when is the best time to harvest? And how does one store a pumpkin? For how long? After a bit of research, it turns out the politics of pumpkins is more complex than you might think from this simple but versatile vegetable.
When to harvest your pumpkins
- Pumpkins should be left on the vine for as long as possible.
- A mature pumpkin will have a hard skin (test your pumpkin: When you thumb the pumpkin, the rind will feel hard and it will sound hollow. Press your nail into the pumpkin's skin; if it resists puncture, it is ripe)
- Often when pumpkins are ready, the vines will be drying back (although this is not true for all regions and varieties)
- cut the pumpkin from the vine so it has 10cm or so of vine still attached to the pumpkin. This will increase storage time.
- use a sharp knife to sever the vine.
- Handle pumpkins very gently or they may bruise.
- Pumpkins should be cured in the sun for about a week to toughen the skin.
- Then, stores in a cool, dry, dark place —anywhere around 10-15 degrees.
- Pumpkins are best stored on a board or piece of cardboard.
- Do not store the fruit on a cement floor, as they tend to rot.
- Do not store the fruit on a good rug in case it was to rot, as it would ruin the rug.
- Make sure that the harvested pumpkins are not touching each other where they are stored.
- In general properly harvested and stored pumpkins will keep for up to 3 months.