I am sharing how to preserve pumpkins to last all season. Use my tips to prevent pumpkins from mold, rot and animals so you pumpkins look fresh and perfect all season long.
HOW DO YOU PRESERVE FRESH PUMPKINS?
I love to decorate my outdoor front porch and back deck with fresh pumpkins. They are fun and festive and I love that I can use them for a few months as part of my fall decor through the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays.
But that can mean that my pumpkins need to be able to withstand a variety of temperatures and outdoor weather conditions because I live in a state with four seasons. It can be hard to keep your pumpkins preserved without having them begin to decay or rot with mold…or be eaten by outdoor animals.
HOW LONG WILL AN UNCARVED PUMPKIN LAST?
If treated correctly you can expect a good quality pumpkin to last outside a few months in the right conditions. There are a few tips that you need to use when choosing your pumpkins to help you ensure that you are getting pumpkins that are not already starting to decay.
TIPS FOR PICKING FRESH PUMPKINS AND GOURDS
When picking out your pumpkins at the pumpkins patches, just as you would buying fresh produce in a store, there are a few things to look for and avoid so you end up with long lasting pumpkins.
- Look for Different Types of Pumpkins in variety color and shape
- Pick pumpkins that have the greener stems. These have been off the vine for a shorter amount of time.
- Pick pumpkins that sound hollow.
- Check to see if the pumpkin is firm all over. Avoid any that may have soft spots.
- Skip any that have wounds which may contain bacteria and can cause it to begin rotting.
- Skip any that have any oozing spots.
WHAT DO YOU USE TO WASH PUMPKINS?
There are actually a few different items you can wash your pumpkins with to keep them fresh longer. I usually always use white vinegar because I prefer to stay away from the harsher chemicals, but they all will work.
- dawn dish soap and white vinegar solution
- dawn dish soap and bleach solution
- white vinegar
- Water and peppermint castile soap
HOW TO KEEP ANIMALS FROM EATING PUMPKINS
In our area, I don’t usually have to deal with the critters and animals eating my outdoor pumpkins. In some areas this is a big problem. Here are a few tips to keep the raccoons, deer, squirrels and other animals away from your pumpkin decor in a way that is safe for both you and the animals.
Most of the following can be placed in a small spray bottle and sprayed onto the pumpkins. If you can’t put it in a spray bottle, you could add a few drops to a paper towel or rag and wipe them onto the pumpkins.
- peppermint essential oil
- hot sauce mixed with water
- cayenne pepper mixed with water
- red pepper flakes
- petroleum jelly
HOW TO PRESERVE CARVED PUMPKINS?
You worked hard carving your fun jack-o-lantern for Halloween and want it to last as long as it can for the big night! You can preserve your carved pumpkins the same way you preserved your uncarved pumpkins. But…if you don’t want to soak them AFTER they have been carved you can add a vinegar mixture or bleach solution to a water bottle and spray the insides of the pumpkin. I have found that mixing 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water works the best.
HOW TO WASH PUMPKINS SO THEY LAST LONGER?
Washing your new pumpkins is vital to keeping them fresher longer. Any old dirt or residue can introduce bacteria into the pumpkin and will facilitate and speed up the decomposition process. So it’s important to remove all the dirt and bacteria to prevent this from happening.
SUPPLIES NEEDED FOR WASHING PUMPKINS
INSTRUCTIONS FOR WASHING PUMPKINS
- Fill your sink or a bucket with warm water. Add vinegar or your other preferred product from the cleaning agents I listed above in the following ratios.
- Use 1 part cleaning agent to 3 parts of water.
- Let the pumpkins soak for at least 20 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pumpkin often so all sides are soaked in the cleaning solution.
- Then take a vegetable brush or cleaning brush and gently brush off any remaining dirt or debris.
- Remove your pumpkins from the solution and place on a dry clean towel.
- Let them air dry.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS FOR HOW TO PRESERVE PUMPKINS LONGER
- Skin oils can cause pumpkins to decay faster, after washing touch them as little as possible
- be careful with the stems, a broken stem can lead to faster decay by allowing in bacteria
- keep pumpkins moist by preventing them from losing their moisture…using petroleum jelly to help them stay moisturized
- try to avoid using a real fire flame candle which can cause the jack-o-lanterns to rot quicker….use battery operated candles
- let the insides of your jack-o-lantern dry and spray the inside with a vinegar solution mentioned above
- place them in a dry and shaded location to help them last longer
HOW TO MAKE YOUR PUMPKINS SHINY?
To give your pumpkins a shiny glow simply rub a little bit of Vaseline or petroleum jelly on a paper towel and buff your pumpkin with it. You don’t need a lot, just a little bit to give it a nice shine. This also helps to keep your pumpkins moisturized.
TIPS FOR CARVING JACK-O-LANTERNS
- Look for pumpkins that have a stem. Broken or missing stems can decay faster.
- Work quickly once you cut into your pumpkin. Have your plan ready to go before you start any cuts.
- Don’t cut off the top of the pumpkin or the bottom of the pumpkin. I find it best to cut out the back of the pumpkin…just enough so you can work inside to clean it out and to carve it. If you can’t do that without ruining the design of the pumpkin, cut off the bottom.
- Keep a water bottle handy to spritz the pumpkin while you carve to keep it moist.
- Think about the tools you are using. Power tools, real knives and larger spoons are a lot easier to work with than the orange “pumpkin tools” you can buy in a kit. Just be super careful and never cut towards you. Don’t allow kids to use these larger tools unless they are capable and supervised.
- Wear work gloves for extra grip as the pumpkins and tools can get very slippery. This can also give you extra protection with the sharper tools.
- Clean out all of the pumpkin guts in the pumpkin. Anything left inside will rot sooner than the pumpkin flesh.
- Use a battery powered candle or light inside your pumpkin.
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