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 itâ€™s still immature, which gives you fruit that can not be successfully stored, giving you poor quality results.
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 â€“ 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 85Â° F (27 to 29Â° 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 55Â° F (10 to 13Â° C)
9. Never store pumpkins near apples, pears, or other ripening fruit. Ripening fruit release ethylene gas which shortens the storage life of pumpkins
10. 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.
11. Avoid placing pumpkins in piles. This generates unwanted heat which may result in the rotting of some fruit
12. Periodically check pumpkins in storage and get rid of any fruit which show signs of decay
13. 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!