Content of the material
- First, completely hollow out your pumpkin
- Clear Coat Sealant
- Bring your pumpkins in before bed
- How to Preserve Pumpkins Naturally Without Bleach
- 8. Get creative with your carving tools…
- 5. Think twice about the lid’s location
- When to Put Your Pumpkin in the Fridge
- 3. Cover with petroleum jelly
- More Tips to Preserve Pumpkins
First, completely hollow out your pumpkin
With a keyhole saw (you can purchase one from Amazon), either take off the top of the pumpkin (best if you intend to put a candle inside) or make a hole in the back. Then dig out the pumpkin pulp with a scraping tool—a spoon can do, but it helps to have something with a sharp edge or teeth, like this pumpkin scooper from Target. Be sure to remove 100 percent of the pumpkin guts, because any that remains could make a bed for mold and mildew growth.
Clear Coat Sealant
For this tactic, simply spray on a sealant coat of paint on the inside and outside of the pumpkin, making sure to get to lid. You’ll want to use LED lights inside, as the sealant is flamable. You can also switch it up and spray paint your pumpkins fun colors!
Bring your pumpkins in before bed
If outdoor temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t leave them out on the porch overnight. Tie up the pumpkin in a trash bag and then temporarily store the bag in your fridge, which should be set between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit—cold enough to slow bacterial growth yet not so much that the gourd freezes. When you retrieve your pumpkin in the morning, it will look as fresh-faced as the day you decorated.
How to Preserve Pumpkins Naturally Without Bleach
If you’re looking to avoid bleach or other options like Vaseline and WD-40 when preserving your pumpkin, there are a few easy tips and tricks, from using ice to utilizing your refrigerator. A lesser known method for naturally preserving a carved pumpkin, though, is with peppermint. As an article on A Few Shortcuts explains, all you have to do is dilute one tablespoon of peppermint dish soap or peppermint essential oil in a quart of water. Then, you pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle and lightly spray the inside of the carved pumpkin.
“Peppermint is a natural anti-fungal and will slow the decomposition process, significantly extending the life of your pumpkin,” the article goes on to say.
8. Get creative with your carving tools…
Most pumpkin-carving professionals recommend paring knives (or the blades included inside a kit), but feel free to experiment with tools that yield different effects. Try boring holes into the pumpkin with a drill, razing sections off with a saw, or using a tiny utility knife to add interesting details.
5. Think twice about the lid’s location
Most people cut the Jack-O-Lantern’s lid at the pumpkin’s top, but this severs off the stem, which provides the pumpkin with nutrients even after it’s been picked. Consider positioning the lid in the back of the pumpkin, or at its base.
When to Put Your Pumpkin in the Fridge
When you’re not showing off your jack-o’-lantern on your porch, put it in a plastic bag in your refrigerator. No room? Keep it in the basement (or any other cool, dark area of your house).
If you live in a warm climate, your pumpkins could rot quicker. Getty Images
The second method to preserve your pumpkin is to rub vaseline all over the inside. Make sure to cover the lid, as well as the cut out portions. This may be a messy method, but it works!
3. Cover with petroleum jelly
Rub the carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil cooking spray. This will keep out new bacteria and molds and help prevent your jack-o’-lantern from dehydrating.
More Tips to Preserve Pumpkins
- Another way to make a pumpkin last is to simply wait until it’s closer to Halloween to carve it. One idea is to mark the carving for the big event, but not actually cut it. Then coat the entire pumpkin except the areas to be carved with glow-in-the-dark paint. This gives you a glowing pumpkin with dark areas where the carving will go.
- While bleach reacts with air so that it needs to be reapplied, you can get lasting protection against critters and mold by treating a carved pumpkin with borax. You can either sprinkle borax powder around the interior of the jack-o’-lantern and the carved surfaces or you can dip the pumpkin in a solution of borax in water.
- If you’re concerned about the potential toxicity of bleach or borax (or simply don’t have them), you can deter rotting and mold using salt. It doesn’t matter whether you use table salt or road salt. You can either soak the pumpkin in brine (saturated saline solution) or else rub salt into the cut surfaces and interior of the jack-o’-lantern. Again, you can seal the pumpkin with petroleum jelly to keep it from shriveling up. Salt prevents rot by dehydrating cells.
- While salt is a better preservative, sugar also dehydrates cells. The same techniques used for salt may also be applied to sugar.
- Another good tip is to use care when selecting your pumpkin. If you can, try to select a pumpkin that is fresh and firm. A freshly cut pumpkin won’t have a shriveled stem or soft spots anywhere on the fruit. You have a much better chance of keeping a pumpkin until Halloween if it doesn’t have an established colony of bacteria and mold.
- When you carve the pumpkin, clean the inside as well as possible. If you leave any strings or seeds, you’re providing extra surface area for microbial growth. It’s easier to keep a smooth surface clean than a rough one.