How to Purchase Winter Squash and Pumpkins from Local Markets

Winter Squash In the Market
Winter Squash In the Market

Now, that I’m seeing fall selection winter squash and pumpkins available in the markets, I thought it might be a good time to provide some guidance on how to select the best of them for storage or dining. This time of year the varieties available balloons and is it an opportunity to try some varieties, which are not normally readily available.

Look For:

  • Full maturity, indicated by a hard, tough rind. Also, look for squash that is heavy for its size (meaning a thick wall and more edible flesh). Slight variations in skin color do not affect flavor.
  • That the stem is still attached to the fruit.


  • Fruit with cuts, punctures, and sunken spots and/or other damage.
  • Moldy spots on the rind and/or stem; this is an indication of decay.
  • Tender rind (outer shell), this indicates immaturity, which is a sign of poor eating quality in winter squash varieties.
  • Decorative varieties with poor quality flesh (e.g. Turk’s Turban) and/or completion varieties (usually, the very largest squash, but not always)