Pumpkins are a great base crop to grow and can provide you with a large amount of food. Pumpkins come with their very own packaging and can be stored as they are for 3-8 months if they are prepared and stored correctly. Having a supply of pumpkins in the pantry can supplement your meals throughout the year. Different varieties of pumpkins will store for varying amounts of time. This is usually due to the toughness and thickness of the skin. If you want to grow pumpkins for storage choose a variety that has longer storage qualities. Varieties such as Jarradale, Queensland Blue, and Blue Hubbard have great storage qualities.
STEP 1: HARVESTING
The first step to preparing your pumpkins for storage is to harvest them correctly. Follow the tips below.
- Harvest the Pumpkins once they reach maturity to ensure the skin is as hard as it can be.
- Pumpkins are ready to be picked when the closest curly tendril to the stem is brown and going dry. The vines will be starting to die off slightly. The pumpkins should be slightly hollow when you knock on them and have hard skins.
- Use sharp secateurs and cut the stem as close to the vine as you can. This ensures you don’t damage the pumpkin and creates a handle to carry them with.
STEP 2: CLEANING
- Wash the excess soil off and ensure the pumpkins are clean. Use a mix of 1:1 vinegar and water to wipe them down and remove any bacteria.
- While washing the pumpkins check for any damage or areas that pierce the skin such as holes, or scratches. These won’t store well so it would be best to start using these first.
STEP 3: CURING
- Curing allows the pumpkin skins to dry and harden before storage.
- To cure the pumpkins place them somewhere sunny and sheltered for 1-2 weeks. This can be outside if there are no frosts or rain otherwise a sunny porch or deck will do. Just be careful if you have rats or other critters around.
- Ensure they are spaced out and not stacked on top of each other.
STEP 4: STORAGE
- Once the pumpkins are cured choose a dark cool location to store them. 10-16 degrees Celcius.
- Pumpkins may leak sticky residue from the bottom flower or stem so don’t be alarmed. Also, consider this when choosing a location to store.
- Ideally place them on cardboard, wood, or plywood. Do NOT store them on carpet, lino, or concrete as this will promote bacteria and moisture.
- Allow space between the pumpkins and do not stack them to allow airflow.
- Roll the pumpkins over and check the cardboard for mold regularly.