Save the Jack O’ Lanterns!

How to Preserve Your Carved Pumpkin to Make It Last Longer!

Don’t you hate when you spend so much time carving an amazing jack o’ lantern only to have it decay too quickly and by Halloween it’s just a shriveled or rotten mess . . .

photo by Evil Erin

photo by Evil Erin

What causes the pumpkin to decay?

There are several primary causes. The intact skin of a pumpkin protects it until you carve it. But then various organisms (fungi, bacteria, molds, fungi, protozoans, insects) can get inside and start to break it down. Oxygen in the air can also easily enter and break down the pumpkin (oxidation). Simple dehydration (drying out) will will begin the moment the pumpkin is carved.
All of this will turn your carved pumpkin masterpiece into a pumpkin puree!

What you need to do

Sterilize the pumpkin’s carved surfaces (to kill mold, bacteria, etc.)
Seal the surfaces to prevent drying and to keep new and reduce drying

photo by MANSOUR DE TOTH

photo by MANSOUR DE TOTH

Here are the simple steps:

Remove dirt: Wipe the exterior surfaces of the pumpkin clean using a damp cloth.

Make a bleach solution of1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle.

Spray the pumpkin inside and all cut areas of the pumpkin with the solution. This will kill much of the surface bacteria and mold that cause rotting. It’s best to spray the pumpkin outside or set it in a shower or bathtub while you’re spraying or drying it. Don’t get the spray onto any material that you don’t want to accidentally bleach.

Let it penetrate and dry for about 20 minutes

Next, rub all of the carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly. This will keep out new bacteria and molds as well as dramatically reduce the dehydration!

Wipe away excess with a paper towel!
Now, keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible (but above freezing!) and you should get at least a week’s enjoyment out of it – and hopefully even longer!