How to Keep Pumpkins From Rotting
Don’t you hate when you spend the time to find the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween only to have it rot before All Hallows’ Eve arrives?
Don’t waste your money and carving time on pumpkins that will end up as mush in a few days with the following tips to keep your pumpkins from rotting after they are picked.
On average, a carved pumpkin will last three to five days and if you live in areas that have colder days and nights, you may get about two weeks from your carved masterpiece.
That lumpy and bumpy orange pumpkin skin provides a protective layer from the elements such as fungi, bacteria, mold, and insects. Once the pumpkin is cut these bad elements are now able to enter your pumpkin and begin breaking it down, which starts the rotting process.
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Don’t Cut the Top Off of Your Pumpkin
Our first instinct is to cut the top to remove the seeds and clean the inside.
Instead of cutting a hole on the top to remove the insides, consider cutting a hole in the back or the bottom of the pumpkin. I prefer to do the bottom to remove the insides as I find it easier to manipulate the pumpkin as I work on it.
Also, by cutting the bottom then any rotting that may be started will be at the bottom instead of at the top, where it will start to work its way down your pumpkin.
Don’t Carve Your Pumpkin
Yep, you read that right. Don’t carve it.
Break out your markers, paints, glue, and glitter, and start creating!
Bonus, you can decorate one side with paints or markers and then a few nights before Halloween carve the other side.
Soak Your Pumpkin in Bleach Overnight
After you clean out your pumpkin and before you start carving it, soak it overnight in a bleach mixture to kill off any lingering bacteria that will make your pumpkin start to rot. FYI, at least 24 hours is recommended for a good bleach soak.
Make sure everything is cleaned well out of your pumpkin and then soak in a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water (1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water).
Allow Your Pumpkin to Fully Dry
A big mistake carvers will make is not allowing the pumpkin to dry all the way before carving, which will allow the rotting process to start.
To help facilitate the drying process, try the following:
- Blot the inside with paper towels
- If you have a box fan or oscillating fan, sit your pumpkin in front of it for several hours.
- Place your pumpkin in a cool well-ventilated area preferably inside to avoid exposing your pumpkin to outside elements as it dries (cool and cold is good, hot is not your friend)
Give Your Pumpkin a Cold Bath
Treat your carved pumpkin with a cold bath during the day (or night) before setting out each night (or day).
Again, cold water will help perk up your pumpkin and keep it hydrated.
Hydrate the Cut Pumpkin Edges
AFTER you bleach and dry your pumpkin, keep your edges moisturized by adding a protectant such as petroleum jelly, WD-40, mineral oil, vegetable oil, etc.
WARNING: be aware of which are flammable if you are using an open flame inside your pumpkin and plan accordingly with a battery-operated votive, etc.