It’s time for a pumpkin: Tips on purchasing, carving or eating

It’s almost Halloween, so you might be in the market for a pumpkin to greet your trick-or-treaters. But not just any pumpkin – a jack-o’-lantern. If you are, now is the time to buy one.

“A lot of people want a jack-o’-lantern,” said Bob Hochmuth, assistant director of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center-Suwannee Valley. “Demand is very high.” 

With a couple of exceptions, few pumpkins grow in the Sunshine State, because of heat, humidity and white flies, Hochmuth said. Most jack o-'lantern pumpkins Floridians buy are shipped from states in the Northeast and the Carolinas. 

A good jack-o’-lantern has a strong stem and does not show signs of mold, said Danielle Treadwell, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences. 

“The best -- biggest, most unique -- decorative pumpkins usually sell out early,” Treadwell said. 

If you invest in one of these, keep it cool and dry, out of direct sunlight, preferably in the house, in the air-conditioning, and place it on a sheet of wax paper or parchment to protect your furniture and countertops from damage, she said. 

Click here for more tips on buying and preparing your pumpkin for carving and a recipe for pumpkin pancakes.

Brad Buck October 4, 2023