Gather round everyone because I have an important announcement to make: The pumpkins are almost here! No, I'm not referring to the plethora of pumpkin spice beverages people love to line up for this time of year; I'm talking about actual pumpkins. From carving to tablescaping, we're all about to see a whole lot of orange. However, knowing the perfect time to get your pumpkin so that it stays fresh is going to be key to your pumpkin success.
Pumpkins aren't just the quintessential symbol of fall, they're also a big business. Last year, Finder.com estimated that $575.26 million would be spent on pumpkins, and that's just in the United States! But all that money will be for nought if you don't consider when you do your purchasing (and carving). And though your kiddos might start screaming at you to stop everything and load up on gourds the second they see all those pumpkin patches pop up around town, patience is a virtue you may want to instill in them when it comes to picking the right one. Unless, of course, you enjoy racing around town the night before Halloween scouring for another one because yours has turned into a science experiment on your front porch.
In speaking with pumpkin experts (yes, there are experts!), it seems pumpkins can actually last for quite some time, provided you take care of them properly. Jade Egger from The Pumpkin Patch, a third generation family farm that practices sustainable agriculture on Sauvie Island, Oregon says in an email to Romper, "Pumpkins will last 8 weeks in a controlled environment (not exposed to direct sunlight or rain)." So even if that pumpkin fever hits you and you just can't wait until October to buy yours, you should be okay.
If you wait too long, however, supply may be the bigger issue. As Egger notes, "By the third weekend in October, our patch is pretty picked over. We suggest the first two weeks in October (for picking)." Another pro-tip from Egger is to try and shop during the week to avoid the weekend crowds and long lines for the hay rides, which you know your kids are going to beg you to do.
Carving is an entirely different matter when it comes to timing though. Egger cautions, "Carved pumpkins break down extremely fast. We would suggest carving your pumpkin 3-5 days prior to Halloween." Did you hear that kiddies? Do not rush the carving!
But what if you don't want to carve your pumpkin? If baking, displaying, or decorating your pumpkins is more your speed, consider these tips from Suzannah Underwood at Moorpark, CA's popular Underwood Family Farms. "Sugar baby pumpkins are best for baking. They can also be painted on, but the skins are very thick so they make it difficult to carve."
Underwood also encourages people to, "Step outside of your comfort zone and try different kinds of pumpkins other than the traditional jack-o’-lantern. Cinderellas, Aladdins, Ghost (white) pumpkins and even squash can make for a great decorations!"
Whether you are looking for that one perfect pumpkin, or a plethora of them to fulfill all your fall dreams, with a little care and the right timing you'll be a pumpkin picking pro quicker than you can say "trick-or-treat."