If you are like many families, you may be planning to soon carve those pumpkins sitting on your porch so that they are ready for Halloween. Unfortunately, many people fail to take the right steps to protect their carved pumpkins from rotting. If you want your masterpiece of a jack-o-lantern to stay fresh and spooky through Halloween night, you will want to be proactive about protecting it from the natural rotting process. Here are a few ways to make this happen.
Choosing Your Pumpkin
The first step in making sure that your jack-o-lantern lasts through the Halloween weekend is to choose the right pumpkin initially. Buying a pumpkin from a local patch rather than a big box grocery store is a good first start. Because local patches grow their pumpkins onsite, they will be more likely to be free of the damage that may happen when shipping. The closest to the source that you find your pumpkin, the better that it will be able to withstand the elements on your porch.Read More »
Cleaning the Inside
Exposed pumpkin guts and goop will accelerate the rotting process. This is why it is important to thoroughly clean the inside of the pumpkin before you begin carving. It is also a good idea to clean the surface and the interior with an easy solution made with one teaspoon of bleach for every quart of tap water. Use a sponge or a spray bottle to clean the pumpkin with this solution. The bleach will work to sterilize the pumpkin so that bacteria do not thrive. Be sure to do this process in advance of the carving so that it is completely dry when you start to have fun with it.
Give it a Bath
You are not done cleaning and sterilizing your pumpkin quite yet. After you have completed the carving process, it is recommended to give the gourd a deep bleach bath. Simply submerge the pumpkin in a bucket that is filled with water and about 1/2 cup of bleach. Leaving this pumpkin to soak for up to 24 hours will kill off any leftover bacteria and preserve the gourd.
Once the pumpkin is done soaking, you can prolong its life even further by remembering to spray it each day so that it does not lose this crucial moisture. You can use the same mixture that you used to clean it before carving to lock this moisture in place. A quick spray every day is all that the gourd will need to stay hydrated.
Use Petroleum Jelly
For an extra layer of protection, you may want to consider rubbing some petroleum jelly along the carved edges of the jack-on-lantern. This jelly will deliver crucial moisture to these vulnerable edges so that they do not dry out as quickly. Alternatives to petroleum jelly include WD-40 or vegetable or olive oil. However, it is important to not use real candles inside your pumpkin should you go this route since these products are flammable. Instead, use a flameless votive to light up your creation.
Store in Refrigerator
If you do not plan on showing off your pumpkin creation until Halloween, consider storing it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. This will keep it fresh until the big day. If you do not have the room in your refrigerator, you can also keep it fresh in your basement, garage, or any other room in the home that stays generally cool and dark.
Avoid Real Candles
In addition to posing a fire hazard, real candles can also dry out the pumpkin in a hurry as it warms up the insides. A better idea is to use a flameless candle or a glow stick to illuminate your gourd.
Keep it at an Even Temperature
Carved pumpkins do not like extreme temperatures. Displaying your jack-o-lantern outside is a great idea, however, it will stay fresh longer if the outside temperature is steady. Jack-o-lanterns do the best in temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s. If you know that the mercury will drop to freezing in the overnight hours, it is a good idea to bring your pumpkin inside for the night to protect it.
Do not let the pumpkin that you worked so hard to turn into a fun jack-o-lantern simply wither away. Following these tips will keep your pumpkin looking great through the Halloween festivities.
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