Believe it or not, Halloween will soon be upon us. It is time to gather around a bon-fire with friends, pass out candy to the neighborhood children (while trying to limit the amount of sugar your own kids’ devour), and put on your favorite costume. This is also the time to bring out the fall decorations and adorn your home with beautifully colored mums, a unique array of gourds, and the most iconic Halloween decoration – Jack-O-Lanterns.
Although it is typically best to wait to carve your creative Jack-O-Lanterns until a day or two before you are ready to display them, some of us need to just get it done when we have the spare time. Carved pumpkins generally last about a week if they are kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool place. Make sure to start with a fresh, firm pumpkin – if you purchase a pumpkin that is already soft to the touch, or one that has just a minor soft blemish of decay, it will rot quite quickly.
The two main factors that go into the destruction of your Jack-O-Lantern are mold and dehydration. So, needless to say, the key to keeping your Jack-O-Lantern fresh for a longer period of time is to avoid mold growth and the dehydration of the pumpkin’s flesh. There are many ‘home remedies’ that claim to help prolong the life of a Jack-O-Lantern – but not all of them are proven to work.
Below is a list of ideas that I found after reading a study on how to extend the life of your pumpkin. Some proved useful, while other were just proven to be ‘old wives tales’:
– Submerge your carved pumpkin in a bucket of cold water for several minutes. Repeat this every several days. This will help with dehydration, but may not be so great at preventing mold.
– Coat the exposed pumpkin flesh with glue. This may sound like a good idea – cover the flesh to keep in the moisture while providing a coating that will protect from mold growth. However, it is not so great. This actually had the worst results in the study and had to be thrown away after just 5 days.
– Coat the exposed pumpkin flesh with an acrylic spray. Same idea as the glue, but proven to work a little better. In the study it surpassed the glue pumpkin by 3 days, lasting a total of 8 days.
– Covering the exposed pumpkin flesh with Vaseline is a fairly common trick. It, however, is not as great as it is made out to be. The pumpkin lasted about 9 days and was covered in mold.
– Instead of submerging your pumpkin in cold water, try soaking it in a water and bleach mixture. This may be the best way to go. The water will keep the pumpkin hydrated while the bleach will keep away mold. Mix the same water and bleach solution in a spray bottle and give the pumpkin a good spritzing every day. The bleach-soaked pumpkin lasted almost 11 days, according to the pumpkin study.
– Purchase a pumpkin preservation spray. Yes, (I couldn’t believe it either) they make these. They can be found in most garden centers during this time of year. The pumpkin sprayed with the store bought remedy lasted nearly two weeks!