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How to make carved, uncarved pumpkins last longer

Carving a pumpkin for Halloween? The Farmer’s Almanac offers a number of things that you can do to make it last as long as possible.

How Long Do Pumpkins Last?

  • Before carving: Freshly harvested or store-bought pumpkins can last 1 month at room temperature and 2 to 3 months if stored in a cool, dark, dry place.
  • After carving: Pumpkins only last 3 days to 1 week before rotting, depending on the weather conditions. Why? Pumpkins are 90% water.

6 Tips to Keep Your Pumpkin From Rotting

Here are some ideas to help keep your carved pumpkins last longer.

  1. Before carving, choose a pumpkin with a solid stem and no soft spots on any side (be sure to check the opposite end from the stem!). Find a pumpkin from a farm or local nursery if possible, as it will be fresher than pumpkins trucked in from far away. Also, do NOT pick up a pumpkin by its stem, which can break easily; the stem continues to feed nutrients to the fruit after cutting it from the vine.
  2. Try a surface carving instead of hollowing out the pumpkin or cutting all the way through the rind. A jack-o’-lantern with more of a surface carving will last longer than one that is cut all the way through. Try just drawing your design first onto the pumpkin’s surface and then follow that line, carving beneath the line to dig out a feature.
  3. If you are hollowing out the pumpkin, do a very thorough cleaning of the pumpkin’s inside, removing not only the seeds, but also scraping out every strand of pumpkin flesh and gooey moistness to slow down microbial growth.
  4. Don’t use real candles. As well as obvious safety concerns, burning a candle inside will shorten the pumpkin’s life span, as the heat that results can “cook” the pumpkin and reduce its longevity to a matter of hours. Try flameless LED candles instead.
  5. Keep the pumpkin cool when not on display if the temperature is still warm outside. Of course, in freezing weather, the pumpkin must be brought inside or it will disintegrate.
  6. Paint your pumpkin instead of carving it, especially if you want to decorate the home or office earlier in the month.

4 Ways to Preserve a Carved Pumpkin

Another way to help carved pumpkins last longer is to preserve them. Here are suggestions from The Farmer’s Almanac readers:

  1. Coat the carved parts with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Do not use real candles alongside Vaseline, which is flammable.
  2. After carving, wipe down all surfaces of the pumpkin with a vinegar-water solution (1 part vinegar to 1 part water) to kill bacteria and fungal spores. You can then spray the pumpkin daily with this solution. If you’re only going to apply one treatment, this is the one to choose!
  3. Place a packet of silica gel inside the pumpkin to absorb moisture.
  4. If your pumpkin is starting to degrade early on, try dumping it in an ice bath. However, you can only do this once. Pumpkins don’t respond well to too many temperature changes.

Bottom-line: The Farmer’s Almanac advise that you wait to carve your pumpkin as close to Halloween as possible.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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