When the summer is over and the pumpkins are growing it comes time to bring them to harvest, but when and how they should be harvested can be an art. They need to be mature but can still be delicate so care needs to be taken.
Is the pumpkin ripe?
- Check the colour – not a sure fire way of telling the ripeness, so this should be used in conjunction with other techniques. If the pumpkin is orange all the way around then it is ripe, however some pumpkins can be ready for harvest even if they are still green and will ripen during the curing process.
- Hard skin – it should be able to resist puncture with a finger or thumbnail (commonly called the thumbnail test).
- Hollow sound – give the pumpkin a slap, a ripe pumpkin will have a hollow sound.
- Tough, drying stem – when the pumpkin is ripe the stem immediately above the pumpkin will start drying out and becomes quitre hard.
How to harvest
- Leave plenty of stem – approximately 10cm (4 inches) and this helps to provide a proper seal between the stalk and the fruit slow down the rotting of the fruit.
- Use a sharp knife – a smooth edge cut on the stem is essential otherwise disease can enter the fruit and rot it from the inside.
- Handle with care – although the pumpkins have a hard skin they can be damaged if you are not careful and this can cause them rot.