Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and the kids and I can’t get into the spirit of the season without candy, costumes, and carving up a big, bright orange pumpkin! It’s a part of our Halloween family tradition and it’s something that my family looks forward to each year.
It’s only the middle of September, but now that I’ve started decorating the house for fall, I know they’ll want to carve their pumpkins immediately! But I know the rule of thumb: pumpkins only last three to five days once carved. Of course, that shouldn’t stop the spooky fun! Here are some tips for keeping your pumpkins fresh if you have early carvers like me.
Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
Work From the Bottom Up
Never cut the top off as it will cut the pumpkin’s life short. I know that the tops are traditionally one of the first things you cut when carving up a Halloween pumpkin, but to keep it lasting longer, start from the bottom instead. Moisture won’t collect at the bottom and the stem won’t start to shrivel and rot.
By cutting out the bottom it’s also easier to pop an electric candle underneath and set the pumpkin over it. It’s less messy and makes it simple when turning it on and off for the night.
The word “pumpkin” showed up for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella.
Keep It Clean
Empty the pumpkin out from the bottom and clean it thoroughly with bleach and water. Since you’re carving the pumpkin from the bottom, you’ll be gutting all the strings and seeds from the bottom as well.
When you’re done getting out all that slimy, ooey-gooey mess, clean the pumpkin inside and out with a wash of 1 tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water. This kills any mold or bacteria that might already be on your pumpkin and can help your pumpkin last days longer!
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Dry It Out
Break time! Dry the inside of your pumpkin with a paper towel or set it open side out and use a fan to help it aerate. Make sure not to use a hairdryer or set it outside to dry as the heat of the dryer and elements outside can make it decompose faster.
While you’re letting it dry, take a quick break and pop in your favorite Halloween movie! Grab a few Halloween snacks and watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” or “Hocus Pocus” to keep the kids entertained while they wait.
The original jack-o’-lanterns were made with turnips and potatoes in Ireland.
Lock In the Moisture
Once your pumpkin is dry and carved, rub Vaseline or olive oil around the carved parts to lock in the moisture. This will keep your pumpkin plump and help keep it from decaying around the carved edges, which are the first to go. This keeps it from getting that puckered, shriveled look. Unless you’re carving a pumpkin witch, in which case that might be exactly what you’re going for.
Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced each year in the United States.
After your pumpkin is dry and moisturized, give your pumpkin a bath of ice water and a little bleach for an hour or two. The same way your freezer keeps meats longer, the ice water will help preserve your pumpkin, and the bleach will kill any lingering mold and bacteria.
Since the cold helps to preserve it, any time that you’re not displaying it, you can also pop it in the fridge to help it last a little longer. Just make sure you have space!
The world’s heaviest pumpkin weighed over 2,600 pounds. It was grown in Germany in 2016.
Don’t Carve It
Of course, the best way to keep your pumpkin alive is to not carve it, but that’s not any fun! A whole pumpkin can last weeks or months without rotting. But if your kids are just dying to start carving once October hits, you might want to give them a pumpkin, a sharpie, and some construction paper. An uncut pumpkin will last until Halloween. This way, they can still enjoy their jack o’ lanterns long before Halloween night.
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