Will A Pumpkin Ripen Off The Vine?

Last Updated on December 7, 2022 by Griselda M.

Will a pumpkin ripen off the vine if you harvest it before it completely matures, or will it go bad when you store it?

Growing pumpkins is a fun summer adventure and even better as you harvest those bigger fruits. Pumpkins are excellent vegetables that you can easily grow in your garden or containers. As you grow them, it is crucial to know when to harvest them and also know will a pumpkin ripen off the vine.

As long as there is no frost, your pumpkin is fine and better off left in the vine until it matures. It will continue to grow as long as the leaves and vine are healthy. If the vine and leaves are healthy, your pumpkin will grow well until harvesting.

There are enough signs that show your pumpkin is ready for harvest that even a new gardener will know. We will look at all these signs and how to harvest and store your pumpkins.

Will A Pumpkin Ripen Off The Vine?

If you have been wondering will pumpkin ripen after being picked, wonder no more. Yes, your pumpkins will ripen! But there are three critical things you need to do to ensure this process is successful and attain lovely orange pumpkins like those used for Halloween.

How To Ripen Pumpkins – Will A Pumpkin Ripen Off The Vine?

Will a pumpkin ripen off the vine if you harvest it before it’s fully ripe? This is a question that most gardeners ask, and we will look at the details herein. The ripening process is slow for a pumpkin on colder days than when the sun is hot.

If you harvest your pumpkin before it ripens off, place your pumpkins in an open area facing the sun. Let them face the south to expose them to direct sunlight. The amount of sun they receive will help them ripen faster.

You can speed up ripening by ensuring nothing blocks the sun’s rays. Wipe the pumpkin surface using a rag or towel to remove dirt or anything else blocking the sun’s rays. Also, remove any objects like pots, furniture, or garden implements.

Make sure nothing is blocking the sun’s rays. Wipe clean the surface of the pumpkins occasionally with a rag or towel. This removes dirt, grease, and any film on the surface, blocking the sun’s rays. Also, remove any objects, such as pots, yard equipment, furniture, or garden equipment casting a shadow on the pumpkins.

Rotate your pumpkins each day when setting them under the sunlight. This ensures different sides get plenty of sun. If one side takes longer to ripen, turn it upward to face the sun directly. If your front porch gets more sunlight than the back porch, set your pumpkins there to give them plenty of sun.

What Can I Do With Unripe Pumpkin?

Pumpkins are a fruit botanically, but we use them as vegetables. If you harvest immature pumpkins, don’t give up or feel troubled, they will continue to ripen after picking, just like fruits.

Harvest unripe pumpkins in the same way you do for the ripe ones – cut them off from the vine leaving at least an inch of stem on the fruit. Be gentle with the squash as you harvest, knowing the skin is not fully cured yet.

Wash off the dirt and any bugs that could be holding on with a damp cloth to allow the sun to penetrate without anything blocking it.

How Do I Know If A Pumpkin Is Ripe?

If you are a new gardener growing pumpkins, you might be wondering how to tell if your pumpkin is ripe. It will come as a relief to discover that there are many ways to know if your pumpkins are ready for harvesting.

As long as you know what signs to look out for, you will enjoy growing and using these for your soups, pie, or Halloween. Here are several things to look out for

The Color

All immature pumpkins are green, so it’s right to assume that a pumpkin is not ripe until it turns orange, right? Or the color it’s meant to be at maturity? Well maybe. So what color is a ripe pumpkin supposed to be? Most people say orange, but pumpkins come in different shades, even grey, blue, stripy, or white.

However, generally, the common color is orange, and it’s a good indicator of ripe pumpkins. If you are growing some other colored pumpkins, hold on to the seed pack until you know the color to expect at maturity.

Generally, color is a good indicator that your pumpkin is ready for picking. Even if your pumpkin does not turn orange, it will turn to the color it’s supposed to be when mature.

The Rind

If your pumpkin’s skin is hard, it means it’s ripe. To test its maturity, try to pierce the skin with your fingernail. It should resist puncture! The pumpkin is ready for picking if the skin dents but does not puncture. The squash shell must be hard and firm if you plan to keep this pumpkin for several months.   The shell protects your pumpkin from pests and diseases; that’s why it’s a bit tough to break.

The Sound

A ripe pumpkin produces a hollow sound when you tap or knock at it. Your pumpkin must already show signs of maturity before you begin tapping on it. You don’t want to start tapping too early, or you won’t even know the sound you are looking for.

The Stem

When the stem above the pumpkin begins to turn brown and becomes tough, this is another indicator that your pumpkin is ripe. The pumpkin stem feels tough to the touch and does not detach easily. This means your plant is mature and can be harvested. Remember, this stem will come in handy after harvesting as it will help cure and prolong the shelf life of your pumpkin. The vine will also begin to dry and taper down the amount of nutrients it gives to the fruit.

how to ripen pumpkins

How Long Does It Take For a Pumpkin To Ripen?

Most pumpkin varieties produce ripe fruit within 120 days. Depending on which type you plant, your earliest harvest can be 90 days after you sow the seeds. If your pumpkins start developing their mature color, they will ripen off the vine. You can cut the fruit off its stem, leaving several inches of stem attached. 

It’s best to allow your pumpkins to ripen on the vine. But frost can force you to harvest early. 

What Time of the Year Are Pumpkins Ready?

You can start harvesting your pumpkins by mid-fall. When this is will depend on where you live. A good rule of thumb is to get them off the vine before the frost comes. They don’t do well in cold weather, and frost will damage them. 

Here are a few signs to help you know if your pumpkins are ready:

  • Ready-to-harvest pumpkins are fully colored. 
  • A ripe pumpkin’s rind is firm. 
  • If your fingernail can easily pierce through the pumpkin skin, it’s not ripe. 
  • Ripe pumpkins sound hollow.

What Does a Ripe Pumpkin Look Like Inside?

The flesh of a ripe pumpkin can be yellow, orange, or even white. There are many varieties, and the color of their inside differs. One universal thing is that they have seeds in their hallow center. The seeds are entangled with flesh called guts. 

You can roast and eat the seeds as a delicious snack! The guts make an excellent base for a broth. Everything inside a pumpkin is edible, so nothing has to go to waste. 

Pumpkin flesh is thick and nutrient-dense. However, its seeds are packed with antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and iron, making it the best part to eat. 

Why Are My Pumpkins Ripening Early?

Pumpkins grown in ideal conditions are likely to ripen earlier than expected. If your average temperatures are between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, your pumpkins might ripen earlier. The humidity level that should accompany these temperatures is 80-85%. If nighttime temperatures don’t drop below 60 degrees, your pumpkins will also thrive.

Pumpkins left on the vine also ripen early. Once a pumpkin changes color, you can leave it on the vine for quick ripening or take it off to prolong this stage.

The more sunlight pumpkins get, the faster they ripen. Always keep this in mind when choosing a planting spot or somewhere to store your pumpkins after you’ve harvested them. 

What to do if pumpkins ripen too early?

If your pumpkins ripen too early, making them last long enough might be your biggest concern. With the right storage techniques, you won’t have to worry. You can leave your ripe pumpkins on the vine until the stem is dry and cracked. Then, leave them in the sun to cure for ten days.

You can also pick your pumpkins earlier if you notice they start ripening. Store them in a dark, cool area to prolong their shelf life. 

Are Pumpkins Green Waste?

Pumpkins are green waste. The rind, flesh, and seeds will break down in a compost heap. You can cut big pieces smaller to ensure they decompose quicker. Don’t throw your leftover pumpkin in the landfill. It will break down much slower and release methane. 


Now that we have settled the argument, will a pumpkin ripen off the vine, lets’s see what you plan on doing with your great ready pumpkins.

Pumpkins recipes are so many you cannot even make all of them. So what do you plan on making with your newly harvested or cured pumpkin? A pie, soup, roasting it, dessert, or you want to add it on to other foods?

You can make all the ultimate comfort foods you ever wanted. Share with us and let us know want is your favorite thing to do with your homegrown pumpkins.

Read more about How To Keep Squirrels Away From Pumpkin Plants?


Will pumpkins ripen after being picked?

Yes, they will.
Pumpkins are picked at various stages of maturity, depending on the variety, size and storage conditions. Pumpkins can be stored in a refrigerator for several weeks.
The best way to tell if a pumpkin is ripe is to pick it up by the stem and shake it. If it's firm, it's ripe. If it feels soft and spongy, it's not. Some pumpkins are picked before they're fully mature (usually to get them to market faster), but this doesn't seem to affect their quality much.

Will pumpkins turn orange if picked green?

Generally, they won´t.
It depends on what variety you are growing. Some are ready to harvest when they have a very small yellowish orange color and some take a couple weeks longer. If they are still white at the end of the season, you can wait until they start turning orange.

What happens if you pick a pumpkin too early?

You might get a pumpkin that is not fully ripe, which means it will be hard to carve. If you decide to harvest the pumpkin too early, you might lose a good amount of its flesh to rot.
Picking a pumpkin at the wrong time also leaves you with an empty seed cavity. And, if you do try to harvest a pumpkin too early, you will not be able to dry it properly.

How can you tell when a pumpkin is ready to be harvested?

The stem of a pumpkin will start to wither after the first frost in your area. If you are in a warmer climate, you might not have to wait until the first frost, but you should still pick your pumpkin before it starts to rot. You can tell whether your pumpkin is ready to be harvested by looking at the stem. It should look dried up and brittle, rather than green and pliable. You may need to take a close look to see if it has started to shrivel.

How do you get pumpkins to ripen?

If you want your pumpkin to ripen faster, then you have to put it in a warm room. If you live in the South, your pumpkin may ripen faster if you put the pumpkin in a greenhouse or porch.
Pumpkins are ready when the stem is soft and the color of the flesh is beginning to turn from green to orange. To test, take a small piece of pumpkin and press it between your fingers. It should feel soft but not mushy. When it's ripe, it'll be firm enough to stand up on its own.

Can you leave pumpkins on the vine too long?

Yes, you can leave them on the vine for a few more days, but you need to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't dry out. I usually just cut them down and pick them up when I'm ready to use them, but I've also left them on the vines for several weeks with no ill effects.