The Q&A Archives: Ripening Pumpkins

Question: I bought your Prizewinner Hybrid pumpkin seeds in the spring and they are doing GREAT! (They are huge and my neighbors and kids are very excited about them.) I'm a little concerned, though, as it's only the end of July and they are starting to turn (a little) orange. The seed packet says they are a reddish orange color when ripe.... are the turning too early? When will they be ready to be harvested?

Answer: Your pumpkins are developing right on schedule. It will take many more weeks for them to completely ripen. Pumpkins will taste best and keep longest if you allow them to remain on the vine until fully mature. It's best to wait until a frost kills the vines, which signals the pumpkins to ripen and develop a hard shell. A light frost actually improves the flavor of pumpkins by changing some of their starch into sugar. A quick field-test, to see if your pumpkins are mature is to try to press your fingernail into the skin of the fruit. If you can break the skin, the pumpkin is immature. If the skin is hard, the pumpkin is mature.

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