You’ve spent the day out east pumpkin picking and you’ve found THE perfect pumpkin for Halloween (or pumpkins!). Hopefully, you’ve started with a firm pumpkin. Any soft spots will quickly develop into rot, so be aware of that while picking out your pumpkin. Now, how can you keep them lasting through Thanksgiving and beyond?
The first thing to know about keeping your pumpkin fresh is that uncarved pumpkins will last a lot longer than a Jack-o-lantern. Carved pumpkins give mold and decay the opportunity to take hold and begin the decomposition process.
Now, if you’ve decided to carve your pumpkin, there are a few things you should do to help it last as long as possible. Put a teaspoon of bleach into a quart of water (this is best done in a spray bottle) and cover the pumpkin with the bleach solution. Let it dry before carving. This will sterilize your pumpkin and kill any existing bacteria. Make sure it’s completely dry before carving.
When you carve your pumpkin it’s important to make sure that you’ve gotten ALL of the pumpkin guts out; the moisture they hold in their guts will speed up the rotting process and mold growth.
After you’ve carved and cleaned the pumpkin thoroughly, make a mixture of ⅔ cup of bleach and at least a gallon of water in a bucket. Submerge the pumpkin, leaving your pumpkin to soak for up to 24 hours. Once you are done soaking let your pumpkin dry completely.
Finally, to help prevent mold and to keep the moisture inside the pumpkin, coat the exposed carved edges with petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, or coconut oil. This will keep the gourd from drying out and collapsing too quickly. However, bear in mind that because these are flammable you should not put a candle inside a pumpkin treated in this way. You should use a flameless votive instead. If you want to use a real candle skip the coatings and just hope for the best! At the very least, your pumpkin should be looking good for Halloween, but if you do it right you can keep it going for quite a long while afterward.