The Q&A Archives: Pumpkins

Question: My friend has a pumpkin and would like to know if it is ok to remove it from the vine. The leaves and vine are all turning brown. They are wanting to use the pumpkin to make a pie. If she removes it where does she store it? Outside? Basement? Does it need to be used right away? What can you tell us about this? If he matters, she lives in Iowa.

Answer: While it is best to leave pumpkins on the vine as long as possible, it sounds like yours may be ready to pick. Make sure it is fully colored and the skin is hard enough not to be able to pierce with your fingernail. When you cut it off, leave about two inches of stem on the pumpkin and try not to bruise it. Storage time and durability depend to some extent on the cultural conditions, the variety grown and the storage conditions. For maximum storage ability, store it with good air circulation and keep it dry and cool. Ideally, try for 50-55 degree F. temperature and 50-75% relative humidity. A 75-80 degree F area with good air circulation for 2 weeks, followed by cooler temperatures will also cure them. In my experience, though, any spot betwen 40 and 60 degrees and not overly humid will work. A dry basement, an attic (unless it's still too hot) or sometimes a spare room that is cool can do. Good luck with your pumpkin!

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