It’s pumpkin season! I absolutely love all things fall and pumpkins, especially carving pumpkins. It’s hard for me to hold off carving jack o’lanterns until right before Halloween so over the years I’ve tried a lot of different ways to keep my jack o’lanterns fresh and stop them from rotting. Today I wanted to share my best tips and tricks to make a carved pumpkin last longer.
Pumpkins start to rot and wilt for two reasons-dehydration and mold/bacteria. To keep a carved pumpkin from rotting and looking shriveled we have to attack both of these culprits by cleaning and then sealing the exposed surface of the pumpkin. Here is the step by step method you need to keep your pumpkin looking fresh!
How to Make a Carved Pumpkin Last Longer
- Carve pumpkin as desired.
- Submerge the pumpkin in a large bucket with water and ⅔ cup bleach. Allow it to soak for 2 hours at minimum, up to 24 hours to allow bleach solution to kill andy microorganisms on the pumpkin’s surfaces. (Keep away from pets and children obviously.)
**Update 2020– a reader pointed out a safety concern to me. Please do not use bleach on a pumpkin if it will be displayed in a place accessible to outdoor animals that may nibble on the pumpkin and get sick from the bleach.**
- Coat the cut layers and inside of the pumpkin with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. NOTE: THIS IS FLAMMABLE SO USE A BATTERY OPERATED LIGHT NOT A CANDLE INSIDE OF YOUR JACK O’LANTERN!!! The petroleum jelly helps seal in the moisture and keep out the bacteria that can cause your pumpkin to dry out or rot.
- Spray the pumpkin daily with a spray bottle of water with a few drops of bleach to help keep it moist and clean.
- Store the pumpkin in a plastic bag in the fridge at night if possible or keep out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place for best results.
- If it starts to wilt, try to revive it by submerging it in an ice bath for a few hours. This works best when you catch it early. Dry thoroughly to prevent mold.
Just to reiterate, NO CANDLES inside the pumpkin if you use the petroleum jelly. Honestly, it’s best even if you don’t to always use a flickering battery operated light instead, real candles heat up and dry out the inside of the pumpkin, shortening its lifespan. Plus, it can be a fire hazard and nobody needs that!