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How to Buy a Pumpkin for Halloween

Pumpkin Buying Rafita IMG_4632

With Halloween just around the corner, nothing’s more fun than taking the kids or grandkids to a pumpkin patch.

Here are tips for picking out great pumpkins:
  • Buy the pumpkins three days to a week before Halloween, depending on the weather in your area.
  • Determine in advance what kind of designs you want to make so you can buy the right size and shape pumpkins.
  • Decide what kind of pumpkin you want. Jack-o'-lantern pumpkins have string, watery flesh and are best used for Halloween decorations rather than cooking. Mini pumpkins have a rich, sweet flavor. Other cooking pumpkins include sugar, cheese, and pie pumpkins.
  • See if there are any farms in your area that have pumpkin patches. It’s fun to take kids to them so they can see how pumpkins grow.
  • Check your local farmers’ market. It’s likely to have a wider selection of varieties and sizes.
  • Supermarkets, discount stores, and other stores offer pumpkins, but some cut the stems short, making it difficult to hold them as you carve.
  • Look for firm pumpkins with a strong stem that aren’t mushy and soft. A uniform orange color shows that pumpkins are ripe.
  • Avoid pumpkins with bruises, cuts, or nicks. 
  • Test the weight of the pumpkin. It should be heavy for its size, not light.
  • Treat the pumpkins gently. If they’re bruised, they’ll deteriorate more quickly.
  • Don’t carry pumpkins by the stems. The stems could break off.
  • Store the pumpkins in a cool, dry place.
  • Carve the pumpkins just before Halloween because they begin to rot quickly.
  • Be careful if you put candles inside carved pumpkins. It will cause them to deteriorate more quickly, and they could warp. Remember also that candles can always be a fire hazard.
For more information, see these Web sites: “How to Buy a Pumpkin for Halloween” on Taste of How To, “Picking Your Pumpkins” on The Pumpkin Patch, and “Pumpkin Buying and Cooking Guide” on Delish.

Copyright 2009, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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Great tips! A lot of stores sell battery opperated "candles" with their Halloween decorations. They flicker like real candles but don't blow out in the wind. Plus, the kids can turn them on every night!


Hi Lisa,

Thanks for letting my readers and me know about battery operated "candles" to use in pumpkins. This sounds like a much more workable and safe options for consumers.


Pandora Ireland

I follow you VIA GFC and I love your blog!

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