As Halloween creeps closer, you may find yourself craving to carve a pumpkin.
But how do you keep the newly sliced pumpkin fresh? Gardening expert and horticulturalist Leslie Vincent of Atkins has provided some tips on how to keep your pumpkins fresh all the way up to Oct. 31 — unless, of course, you want the added scare of rot.
Know the right time to pick and carve
Vincent suggests timing is key to keeping your pumpkin fresh — and once you take your first stab at the orange fruit, much like Michael Myers’ victims, its time is limited.
“Once you cut into a pumpkin the lifespan of the fruit significantly decreases,” Vincent said in a statement.
Before carving a pumpkin, it can last around a month at room temperature, but once you begin hollowing out the fruit, you’ve got around three to seven days before the pumpkin starts to rot.
If you want your pumpkin to be in pristine condition for the big day, Vincent recommends purchasing a locally sourced pumpkin around 14 days before Halloween and carving 10 days before Oct. 31.
WD-40 can keep your pumpkin al-iiiiiiii-ve
Don’t want your pumpkin to resemble a zombie? Use a little WD-40.
“This one always raises a few eyebrows but it really works, we’ve been using this method for a number of years without fail,” Vincent states. “Pumpkins generally tend to rot so quickly after carving because they lose nearly 90% of their moisture content, the remaining moisture needs to be protected and retained.”
Mineral oils make up one of the main ingredients in WD-40 and that’s the key, Vincent states. Coat the outside and inside of the pumpkin with the spray after carving ensuring a good covering all over the fruit. This will keep your pumpkin looking fresh for far longer.
But, be careful. Unless you want the same fate as Carrie, do not use an actual candle in the pumpkin. Use an LED light. WD-40 is flammable.
Benefits of bleach?
Soaking a pumpkin in bleach has long been a suggested tactic to extend its life, but does it make a difference?
“The bleach trick is quite clever and can add around a week extra onto the lifespan of the pumpkin,” Vincent states. “When you dip the pumpkin in bleach you’re effectively killing off any bacteria and organisms that exist on the skin of the fruit, without these present the rotting process is staved off for a little while longer.”
You can use this method by rinsing your pumpkin after it’s been carved. Then, grab a bucket big enough for the pumpkin to be fully submerged in, and fill it up with water. Drop in around three teaspoons of bleach and then place the pumpkin in the solution and hold it down for around 2-3 minutes.
After this, take it out and leave it to dry, job done.
How about vinegar?
“If you don’t feel comfortable using bleach, vinegar works just as well,” Vincent states. “Similarly to the bleach, vinegar rids the pumpkin of any fungi and bacteria which slows the rotting process.”
For this trick, fill up a bucket of water and add in some splashes of vinegar. Soak the pumpkin for around 30 minutes and allow it dry.
This option is better for those who will be placing their pumpkins outside, as it is safer for the surrounding wildlife if they decide to have a quick nibble. A good tip to avoid being haunted by the vengeful spirits of local critters for the rest of your life.
“Keep your pumpkin as moist as you possibly can,” Vincent said.
Shouldn’t be too hard to do in Florida.
“When you carve the pumpkin you’re turbocharging the oxidation process, which leads to rotting. Mist the pumpkin with water on a regular basis,” Vincent said.
He also recommends avoiding candles and flames in or near the pumpkin when possible, as it only dries the fruit out further. LEDS are the way to go.
If you’re placing the pumpkin outside try and keep them in a dry, covered spot –too much sun will have the pumpkins looking mushy in no time. Similarly, too much rain can create mould so keep it covered,” Vincent states.
Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.