Preserving a carved pumpkin doesn’t take much time, and it keeps them from quickly rotting or getting moldy. In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to preserve your jack-o’-lantern, and give you tons of tips to make it last longer.
Halloween might be a time to celebrate spooky things, but a withered and moldy jack-o’-lantern is no fun!
Thankfully there are some simple things you can do to preserve carved pumpkins so they last as long as possible.
Just follow this guide to prevent your carved pumpkins from decaying too fast, so that you don’t have to add them to your compost pile before Halloween even arrives.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide…
Why Preserve Your Carved Pumpkins
Carving jack-o’-lanterns is one of the best ways to celebrate Halloween. As much fun as it is to turn these gourds into festive works of art, watching them fester and fall apart is the worst.
By preserving carved pumpkins, you can help them last longer so they add to the happy autumn aesthetic on your front step or porch.
This is especially true if you live in a place that has any kind of weather (so, all of us). If you’re somewhere that stays warm and humid in the fall, they’ll likely start to mold pretty quickly.
Dry climates aren’t much better. In arid conditions, they will dry and shrivel up in no time. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prevent any of these problems from happening.
How Long Does A Carved Pumpkin Last?
Exactly how long a carved pumpkin will last depends on several factors, like the weather, temperature, and other environmental conditions.
Fresh ones will last for several months, but once you cut into them, their lifespan diminishes considerably.
Generally speaking, most jack-o’-lanterns will last about 2-5 days before they start to shrivel and deteriorate.
How To Preserve A Carved Pumpkin
Skip the bleach, WD-40, and other harmful chemicals – you don’t need them to preserve your carved pumpkins. Instead try these natural methods using items you probably already have on hand.
There are two ways to use it to preserve a carved pumpkin. You can either pour some vinegar directly on a rag, and use it to wipe down both the outside and inside.
Or, you can mix 1 part vinegar with 10 parts water in a large tub, and let the entire thing soak in there for about 30 minutes.
Alternatively, you could use bleach instead of vinegar if you want to. Just keep in mind that it is a strong chemical, and not natural.
2. Peppermint Soap
Peppermint is naturally anti-fungal too, so it is another great option to prevent mold. The strong smell of the essential oils can also help to keep bugs and rodents away.
The peppermint soap will clean your jack-o’-lantern too, which removes bacteria and other pathogens that can cause them to rot faster.
Either soak the whole thing in a large tub of soapy water, or use a damp cloth with soap on it to wash both the outside and the inside. There is no need to rinse it off, the peppermint actually works better if you don’t.
3. Vegetable Oil
Spreading vegetable oil around the inside and outside of your carved pumpkin helps it retain moisture, and preserves it longer.
A nice thick coat of oil also adds a protective barrier that can work to keep the bugs out.
Instead of oil, some people like to use petroleum jelly. This is an option that can work if you prefer, but it’s not a natural product.
7 Tips To Make Carved Pumpkins Last Longer
In addition to the natural preservation methods listed above, below are some practical tips that keep your carved pumpkins look fresh and festive on your front step or porch for as long as possible.
1. Don’t Carve Your Pumpkin Too Early
Regardless of the steps you take to preserve your jack-o’-lantern, they won’t last forever. So, if you want them looking their best on Halloween, wait until the last few weeks of October to carve them.
If you do it too early, you may end up with a shriveled, moldy, or half eaten mess no matter what you do. So timing is a key factor here.
2. Keep Your Carved Pumpkin Cool
Heat is the enemy of preservation, so to ensure your carved pumpkins last as long as possible, keep them someplace cool.
That’s easy for those of us with cold fall temps. But if it’s warm where you live, put them in the fridge, basement, or another cool area indoors during the hottest part of the day.
3. Protect It From Direct Sunlight
When jack-o’-lanterns sit in the hot sun all day long, it will shorten their life. So, if your porch or front stoop receives lots of direct sunlight, move it somewhere shady.
Or better yet, get creative and make your own shady spot by positioning them behind decorative straw bales, a scarecrow, or other festive decor.
4. Thoroughly Remove All The Guts While Carving
To ensure the steps you take to preserve your carved pumpkin are as effective as possible, thoroughly remove all of the guts from the inside.
Any remaining seeds and loose pieces of pulp will contribute to mold and rot, so get as much of it out as you can. The better you scrape out the innards, the longer it will last.
5. Prevent Your Carved Pumpkin From Freezing
Heat isn’t the only thing that causes your masterpiece to deteriorate too soon, freezing temperatures can too.
If it’s going to get below 32°F outside, then bring it into the garage or house overnight. When they freeze, it destroys the cells, which will cause them to shrivel and rot very quickly.
6. Don’t Leave Your Jack-O’-Lantern Out In The Rain
Moisture is one of the key components of mold and rot. So if you leave it outside in the rain, you can bet it will speed up the decay process.
This is true even if you take the steps above to preserve your carved pumpkin. So, if you know it’s going to rain, move it into a shed or garage until things dries up.
7. Avoid Using A Real Candle To Light It Up
The heat from the flame of a real candle actually cooks the inside of your jack-o’-lantern. That can dry it out faster and cause it to shrivel up.
Preserving a carved pumpkin and taking the proper steps to make it last longer isn’t very hard. It’s worth the effort to ensure your jack-o’-lantern will still look great on Halloween.
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Share your tips for preserving carved pumpkins in the comments section below.