One of the most beloved fall activities is going to the pumpkin patch and picking out a pumpkin to carve into a jack o lantern. As you may know, those pumpkin-patch pumpkins ain’t cheap and when you spend hours carving an intricate design you want it to last as long as possible. Here are some tips on how to preserve pumpkins this fall.
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How to Preserve Pumpkins to Last and Entire Month
Pumpkins are a great natural fall decor piece and will always be a timeless classic. While there are many fake pumpkin options in nearly any craft store, they will never look as real as a fresh pumpkin.
If you're looking for something to craft with you’ll only have to make once, then I encourage you to go the fake route. But, if you are looking for a great piece that will last the season, you can’t go wrong with real pumpkins! Here is how to preserve pumpkins so your Jack O' Lantern will last for an entire month.
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Why do you need to preserve pumpkins at all?
It is possible to preserve pumpkins and other gourds. While the dry time will vary based on the size and shape of your gourd, you can preserve them! Un-carved pumpkins and gourds do last a long time, where they were grown is what will cause them to rot. Pumpkins grow from the dirt, and the dirt and mold that they pick up from those fields will cause them to rot. To properly preserve them, this means you will need to remove both the dirt and mold from the pumpkin.
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How long will an uncut pumpkin last?
Three to six months. In fact, a healthy, uncut pumpkin can last for three to six months if it's stored somewhere dry at about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Removing dirt and mold from your pumpkin
Moisture is also not a pumpkin’s friend! Mold likes to grow on dark and wet places, and a pumpkin is the perfect place for this! Once you start to carve a pumpkin, the small cavities within your pumpkin become a breeding ground for bugs and mold.
To properly preserve your pumpkin and extend the life of your pumpkin, you will need to kill all the harmful bacteria and anything on your pumpkin that can cause it to rot. By removing the dirt and mold, you can extend the life of your pumpkin for a few additional weeks or even months, depending on the condition of your pumpkin.
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Supplies needed to preserve pumpkins
- Large bucket or sink that will hold the pumpkin
- Cold water
- Petroleum jelly
Steps to Keep Pumpkins From Rotting This Halloween
- Clean the inside.
- Give it a bleach-water bath after you carve it.
- Apply petroleum jelly to the inside of the pumpkin.
- Apply petroleum jelly to the outside of the pumpkin.
- Store it in the fridge overnight.
- Don't use real candles to light it.
- Display it in a stable temperature.
How to preserve pumpkins
After your pumpkin is has been gutted and carved the way you want, it’s time to preserve it so that it can last up to a whole month.
To preserve your pumpkins, the first thing you want to do is create a bleach bath to soak the pumpkins. If you are working with smaller pumpkins, you can add multiple at a time.
Don’t overfill your cleaning vessel or the water will spill out as you submerge and soak the pumpkin.
It’s best to use a tub or your kitchen sink, as you will need a large tub to soak your pumpkins. Add about two tablespoons of bleach and a little bit of dish soap to one gallon of water. The mixture of bleach and soap will be used to clean and disinfect your pumpkin.
Let your pumpkin soak in this mixture for about a half-hour.
After your time is up, make sure to rinse your pumpkins thoroughly, and dry them exceptionally well. You want to make sure that all of the moisture has been removed from your pumpkin as best as you can.
Once the pumpkin is mostly dry (as dry as it’s going to get considering it’s flesh is mostly made of water) apply petroleum jelly to the inside of the pumpkin and any exposed fleshy parts of the fruit (yes, pumpkins are a fruit).
Use fake candles to light your pumpkin. A real flame will create heat that will cause the pumpkin to rot faster.
After your pumpkin is ready for display make sure you keep it in a cool place away from extreme temperatures. If you live in a warm climate you may want to keep your pumpkin refrigerated when not on display.
Keep it out of the rain and away from freezing temperatures.
If you don't have bleach on hand you can use vinegar or lemon juice in lieu of the water. Simply add about 2 tablespoons of either of these ingredients instead of bleach.
Yes. If you don't want to coat the exterior with petroleum jelly then you can spray it with hairspray (any kind will do). The hairspray will act as a barrier between the pumpkin and the air. If you are using hairspray on the outside of the pumpkin it will become flammable so definitely use a fake candle in this case.