From spooky ghosts to terrifying skulls, there are countless designs you can carve into your pumpkin this fall for Halloween. Don’t let your design wither away on your front porch before the trick-or-treaters arrive. It’s inevitable that your pumpkin will eventually rot but here are some of our tips to get your pumpkin to look fresh longer.
Picking the perfect pumpkin
- Look for a pumpkin with a deep orange color. You can buy pumpkins in various colors and shades but the best jack-o-lantern pumpkins are orange all over. If your pumpkin has some minor discoloration it is okay but if it has a lot of green then it could mean something is wrong.
- Knock on the pumpkin to check if it is hollow. If the pumpkin is hollow then it has thinner walls which means it is perfect for carving. A pumpkin with thicker walls is good for cooking and is more difficult to carve.
- Make sure that the pumpkin is firm and not soft and mushy. If there are any soft spots then the rotting process may have already began.
- Check the stem to make sure it is firm and secure. Don’t pick up a pumpkin from its stem because if it breaks then it will lead to faster decay.
- Avoid bruised pumpkins – the carving will be much easier with a smooth surface.
After you have found your perfect pumpkin, here are some tips to keep it lasting longer.
Clean the inside
Pumpkins are very moist so any part of the pumpkin that is exposed to the elements will begin to mold if you do not take care of it. Before carving, we recommend cleaning the outside surface and the interior with a spray bottle that contains one teaspoon of bleach and one quart of water. Using the spray bottle is an efficient way to apply the liquid to the whole pumpkin without getting your hands dirty. This solution kills bacteria by sterilizing the gourd. Let the pumpkin dry before you carve.
After you have finished carving your design into your pumpkin, it is time to preserve it. Give your pumpkin a good cleansing by submerging it in a bucket with 2/3 cups of bleach and water. You can leave the pumpkin there overnight to soak but no more than 24 hours. This process will preserve your pumpkin, allowing it to stay fresher longer.
The outside of a pumpkin is very similar to human skin because it needs protection. Apply petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to the carved edges of the pumpkin. This process prevents the pumpkin from drying out too fast. The jelly/oil will trap the moisture into the pumpkin so be sure to do this after cleaning it with bleach or else the bacteria will be trapped inside.
Note: If you apply petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to your pumpkin, do not use a candle inside because these are all flammable. Lighting candles inside of your pumpkin can cause negative effects because the heat is essentially cooking them. Opt for flameless candles or glow sticks instead.
Pumpkins are moist and without water they will shrivel. You can prevent this by spraying your pumpkin with water and a few drops of bleach; this substance will keep it moist and bacteria away.
Keep it cool
Is your pumpkin starting to wilt? An ice bath overnight could give your pumpkin the serious rehydration it needs. When you’re done, make sure it is completely dry so it does not mold.
Another tip is storing your pumpkin in the fridge or cool area such as the basement.
But not too cool. Avoid leaving your pumpkin outside in the freezing temperatures because it can be harmful. If the late October nights become too cold, be sure to bring your pumpkin in each night to keep it healthy. The ideal temperature is around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t Carve it
If you’re looking to have a pumpkin on your porch all season long, our easiest tip is to not carve it at all. An uncarved pumpkin will stay fresher for a longer period of time. If you or your kiddos are dying to add some spooky pumpkins to the porch this fall, try painting them instead.