Do you love pumpkin-flavored treats and recipes as much as we do? Then you came to the right place. We’re outlining some of the best ways to pick a pumpkin. Whether you plan on carving one up or serving that perfect pumpkin pie, consider these key factors when selecting your favorite fall-time squash.

Versatility: Pumpkins Aren’t Just for Eating

Pumpkins are essential to a variety of delicious recipes. Roast them in the oven. Puree them for a delicious pumpkin-based soup. Bake them into bread or muffins. Even sweeten them up a bit with pumpkin cookies. These are all delectable ways to serve them up, just remember to remove the seeds and pulp from the inside before prepping your meal.

Of course, the best thing about pumpkins is that they aren’t just for eating. You don’t have to cook pumpkins to enjoy them. During the autumn season, it’s common to see pumpkins used as decorations. Whether they’re whole, carved, or painted, pumpkins are a symbol of fall.

So, get crafty with your pumpkins! Decorating and/or carving pumpkins is a long-lasting family tradition. Let the kids explore their creativity and maybe get a little gooey in the process. If you’re cleaning out your pumpkin, don’t forget to save the seeds and bake them for a healthy, delicious snack.

Health Factor: Packed with Vitamins

Pumpkins are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. In fact, the potassium found in a pumpkin can actually help stabilize blood pressure and support overall heart health.

The USDA notes that consuming one cup of cooked pumpkin – boiled, drained and without salt – contains many of our daily nutrient requirements. It contains over 100% of our daily needs of vitamin A, 20% daily value of vitamin C, more than 10% of vitamin E, and much more.

These gourds are also low in calories. However, if your looking to get the same health benefits from canned pumpkin at your local grocery store, make sure the only ingredient listed is pumpkin. Many canned pie mixes contain added sugars and syrups that do not contain the same health advantages.

Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

Picking pumpkins can also be a great family activity. As fun as it often is, actually selecting the perfect pumpkin can be tricky. The key is to choose a pumpkin that is firm all over and doesn’t have any brown spots. It should have a sturdy dark green or black stem, this will be helpful for carrying to the car later!

Try to go orange with your pumpkin. Of course, this is the traditional color, but an all-orange pumpkin also indicates its health and ripeness.

If you plan on carving your pumpkin, pay attention to its shape. A round or oval pumpkin with a flat bottom will give you the ideal carving platform. Look for a thinner walled pumpkin, the thicker the wall, the harder it will be to carve.

Peak Season

Pumpkin season actually begins around mid-September and lasts throughout October and November. Take advantage of the great fall weather and head over to your local farmer’s market or find a place to pick your own. Whichever you choose, you are sure to have a great harvest season!