Nothing puts the "Boo" in Halloween like carving a crummy pumpkin that's already falling apart before the 31st. But getting a nice fresh one straight from the farm can be a great family outing that lands you a terrific Jack-o'-lantern to boot. We talked to a few farms about how to pick the perfect pumpkin, whether for spooking up your decorations or for carving and baking.
The healthiest and ripest pumpkins are a solid orange with no green. Another sign of a good pumpkin is a nice thick stem. Avoid brittle stems. They can break off when carrying, disintegrate in the rain and just don't look as good.
Press your fingers into the pumpkin's skin all around. You want your pumpkin to be completely hard, like a melon. If there's any soft spots, skip it.
A stem is a decoration, not a handle. Try to use it as one and it's likely to break off. Hold the pumpkin with at least one hand below and consider using a wheelbarrow or wagon to help you bring it to your car. But don't roll the pumpkin. It can pick up dirt or gravel, which will damage the skin. Rolling can also create bruises, which accelerate rotting.
Enjoy and don't stress it! Pumpkins are very subjective. Your perfect pumpkin could be 2 lbs or 20 lbs, teeny tiny or with a great big long face. Just pick the one that speaks to you, test it for softness, treat it right, and yours can be the "Great Pumpkin" too.