Preserving Pumpkins – How To Make Them Last

Staff Photo by Jeff Depew

With Halloween approaching, it is expected that there will be Jack-o’-lanterns around every corner. But by the time Halloween is actually upon us, many of the pumpkins have withered and molded from the long exposure through fall. So how do we keep our pumpkins fresh through the long months?

When choosing a pumpkin it is recommended that you choose one from a local pumpkin patch or farm rather than from a store where the pumpkins have gone through the harsh shipping process. This process typically leaves bruises on the pumpkins which cause them to rot faster. However, if you can find a pumpkin from the store that does not have any visible bruising, it will work just as well as one from a patch.

First, you should thoroughly clean the inside of the pumpkin you’re carving. Be sure to remove all of the pumpkin guts or they will begin to mold very quickly. Clean the interior and exterior of the pumpkin with a solution of one teaspoon of bleach to one quart of water. Using a spray bottle may make this task easier. Let the pumpkin dry before continuing to the carving process.

Second, after carving, completely submerge the pumpkin in a solution with water and 2/3 cup of bleach. Let the pumpkin soak in this solution for approximately 24 hours.

Third, (this is only as an extra layer of protection and is not a required step) apply Vaseline to the carved edges of the pumpkin. Vegetable oil also works if you do not have Vaseline. This keeps the pumpkin hydrated for longer; however, since these substances are flammable, a candle or live flame cannot be used; instead, use a small, plastic, battery powered candle.

Fourth, spray the pumpkin once every day with water mixed with a couple of drops of bleach to keep it hydrated.

Fifth, if you are not displaying your pumpkin, try to keep it in a dark, cold place. For example, put it in a plastic bag in the fridge or a basement.

Sixth, if your pumpkin begins to wilt, try giving it a long ice bath to rehydrate it. Make sure to dry it thoroughly afterwards.

Seventh, using real candles can dry out your pumpkin and essentially cook it, so refrain from using them.

Eighth, try to keep your pumpkin at a constant, stable temperature. For instance, if the temperature reaches below freezing, bring your pumpkin inside.

Hopefully these tips help to keep all the pumpkins fresh this fall season. Happy Halloween! 

Source: Sophie Swann, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer