9 Easy Ways to Keep Your Carved Pumpkins From Rotting This Halloween

·5 min read


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There's nothing that signals the true start to fall quite like putting out Halloween decorations. Whether you adorn your front door with brightly colored mums or you're more of a fake spider web type of person, the one thing that most Halloween and fall decor lovers can agree on is that pumpkins are necessary. But figuring out how to preserve pumpkins is a bit trickier. Most people can relate to buying a pumpkin too soon in the season only to have it disintegrating or falling apart by the time October 31 rolls around. And while that might add to the spooky vibes of the season, it's not exactly the ideal aesthetic for most people. Luckily, though, there are quite a few different ways to ensure that your pumpkins last all fall long — even if you live somewhere with warm temperatures.

So get that pumpkin patch visit on your calendar now, and while you're at it do some quick research about how to prepare to preserve those pumpkins, too. It might seem like extra work, but in the long run it'll save you the stress of having to run to the grocery store or farmer's market and spend more money on pumpkins that look exactly like the ones you bought three weeks ago.

[poll id='f1da7a73-81f4-4873-833d-a32c0de56d72_0' type='text' question='How long do you keep a rotting pumpkin around?' answer1='At the first sign of mold, they have to go.' answer2='I'll let them slide until after Halloween.'][/poll

From natural solutions to preservation methods you can do with products you already have at home, here's how to preserve your jack-o'-lanterns this fall.

How to Preserve the Inside of a Pumpkin

Since they're moist, any bit of exposed pumpkin guts will start to go moldy very quickly. Pumpkin Patches & More suggests cleaning the surface of the pumpkin and the interior with a teaspoon of bleach per one quart of water. (Putting it in a spray bottle makes it easier to apply the solution to the whole pumpkin.) This will sterilize the gourd, killing any existing bacteria. Let it dry fully before you start carving.

How to Preserve a Carved Pumpkin With Bleach

The bleach comes into play again post-carving, giving it a good cleansing. Submerge your creation in a bucket filled with water and 2/3 cup of bleach. Leave the pumpkin there to soak for up to 24 hours.

Photo credit:  Westend61 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

How to Use Petroleum Jelly to Preserve a Pumpkin

As an extra layer of protection, apply Vaseline on the carved edges. This will keep them moisturized and prevent the edges from drying out too fast. If you don't have Vaseline, vegetable oil or WD-40 works too. But since all three are flammable, don't put a candle inside your pumpkin — use a flameless votive instead. Don't put on the jelly before you clean the pumpkin with bleach, either. Since the jelly is trapping the moisture in the vegetable, it will trap the bacteria along with it if you don't clean the gourd first.

How to Preserve Pumpkins Naturally Without Bleach

If you're looking to avoid bleach or other options like Vaseline and WD-40 when preserving your pumpkin, there are a few easy tips and tricks, from using ice to utilizing your refrigerator. A lesser known method for naturally preserving a carved pumpkin, though, is with peppermint. As an article on A Few Shortcuts explains, all you have to do is dilute one tablespoon of peppermint dish soap or peppermint essential oil in a quart of water. Then, you pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle and lightly spray the inside of the carved pumpkin.

"Peppermint is a natural anti-fungal and will slow the decomposition process, significantly extending the life of your pumpkin," the article goes on to say.

How to Keep Your Pumpkin From Shriveling

Pumpkins shrivel up because they run out of moisture. Spraying it every day with water mixed with a few drops of bleach will keep it moist and ward off bacteria. As an even easier solution, spray it with a DIY pumpkin preserve spray daily to fight off mold.

When to Put Your Pumpkin in the Fridge

When you're not showing off your jack-o'-lantern on your porch, put it in a plastic bag in your refrigerator. No room? Keep it in the basement (or any other cool, dark area of your house).

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

How to Use Ice to Preserve a Pumpkin

If you see your pumpkin starting to wilt, give it an ice bath overnight for some serious rehydration. Once you take it out, dry it thoroughly to prevent mold growth.

Why You Shouldn't Use Candles Inside a Pumpkin

Using candles inside your carved pumpkins can have a negative effect on them as the heat is essentially cooking the pumpkin. Try using a flickering flameless candles or glow sticks instead.

What Temperatures Are Bad for Pumpkins?

Avoid leaving your pumpkin outside during freezing temperatures. Ideally, you want to place it somewhere with a temperature in the upper 50s to lower 60s Fahrenheit. So if you're in an area where freezing weather is likely during October, be sure to bring your pumpkins inside each night.

How to Preserve & Decorate Uncarved Pumpkins

We know, not carving your pumpkin sounds tragic. But an untouched pumpkin will stay fresher for a longer period of time compared to a carved one. Spraying WD-40 on the surface of an uncarved pumpkin helps keep it fresh for longer. As an alternative to pumpkin carving, try our favorite pumpkin painting and no-carve ideas.

How to Preserve Pumpkins With Vinegar

Another natural method for preserving a pumpkin is to use the ever-useful ingredient of vinegar. As an article on Taste of Home explains, "To keep your pumpkins looking brand-new throughout October, just fill a large tub with 10 parts water and 1 part vinegar. Let the gourds soak for 20-30 minutes in the bath, then pull them out and let them air-dry."

This won't make the pumpkins last forever, of course, but it will help them stay fresh and new-looking for longer — no bleach required. Plus, it's safe for any pets or wildlife.

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