How To Make Your Carved Pumpkin Last Longer

Did you carve your pumpkin, creatively, last year only to have it rot days before Halloween? What causes the pumpkin to decay? There are several primary causes of “pumpkin rot”:

  • Dennis Haunted House v23 (Gene Granata |

    Photo credit: Gene Granata |

    The intact skin of a pumpkin protects it until you carve it. Then, various organisms (fungi, bacteria, molds, protozoans and insects) can get inside and break it down.

  • Oxygen in the air can also easily enter and break down the pumpkin.
  • Simple dehydration (drying out) will begin the moment the pumpkin is carved.

All of this will turn a happy pumpkin face into a sad old man in a short period of time.

How to stop pumpkin aging:

  • Sterilize the pumpkin’s carved surfaces to kill fungi, mold, bacteria and bugs.
  • Seal the surfaces to prevent drying and to keep out new little organisms.

Essentially, it is like embalming your pumpkin. Follow these simple steps:

  • Remove dirt; wipe the exterior surfaces of the pumpkin clean using a damp cloth.
  • Make a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle.
  • SPumpkinspray the pumpkin inside and on all areas of the pumpkin with the solution. This will kill much of the surface bacteria and mold that causes rotting. This is best done outside and away from children and pets.
  • 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.
  • Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible, but above freezing.

A little, simple Halloween magic with household items will make your Jack O’Lantern last longer.

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