We all enjoy having a nice Halloween or Fall display. So, it can be quite disappointing to put in a lot of work to achieve that perfect carved or decorated pumpkin, only to discover that it has shriveled or rotted out before the big day arrives. These tips will help make your jack o’ lantern last until Halloween, and perhaps even longer!
How To Make Your Jack O’ Lantern Last Until Halloween…
Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin:
Let’s begin by discussing what you should look for in a pumpkin before buying it. You are going to want to get the freshest pumpkin that you can find, because, well… to stay fresh, you must begin fresh.
The best way to get the freshest pumpkin is to pick your own from a pumpkin patch. If you don’t have access to a pumpkin patch, just look for a solid pumpkin that fits the rest of these checklists.
The next thing that you want to look for is damages. You don’t want a pumpkin that has cracks or soft spots. If it does, it has already begun to deteriorate, or at the very least, it will be susceptible to pests.
Look for one that is solid and crack free. Ugly pumpkins are fine and sometimes add to the final design. In fact, I sometimes purposely look for ugly pumpkins because I have a weird sense of humor and come up with crazy pumpkin carving ideas.
Make sure that you buy a pumpkin that still has its stem. They say that the stem continues to provide nutrients to the pumpkin even after it is removed from the vine. A nice thick stem also indicates a nice thick wall.
If you find a pumpkin that is missing its stem, pass on it. Once the stem is pulled loose, the pumpkin becomes open to rot.
What Not to Do:
Regardless of what you may have heard, you should never freeze your pumpkin. If you do, it will become soft and mushy. Instead, place it in a cool location until you are ready to decorate it.
But, if you really want to know how to make your jack o’ lantern last until Halloween, then you should not carve it too soon. Wait until no more than a week before the big day to keep it looking its best.
The closer to Halloween that it is, the better your carvings will look. Which, makes all of your Halloween decor projects look that much better.
Once you find a pumpkin with a nice healthy stem, avoid lifting or pulling the pumpkin by it. Instead, carry it buy the fruit. When you actually get around to carving, you can leave the stem, and instead, cut an opening in the back to get to the guts.
Make sure that you thoroughly clean the interior of the pumpkin. Scrape the guts out completely and thin the walls as much as possible without weakening the exterior. An ice cream scooper is great for really getting in there and scooping out the walls.
Do not leave your pumpkin out in the rain or sitting in direct sunlight. In fact, I suggest bringing them in at night, especially if you live in an area where there is wildlife. Otherwise, your wonderful work of art may become a midnight snack.
If you search the internet you will find a lot of ways to preserve a pumpkin, and I have tried them all. But, of all that I have tried, the best one is doing a bleach bath.
I just fill a 5-gallon bucket (one of those that you can get from the hardware store) up to about halfway and add 3-4 TBSP of bleach. Then, I soak the carved pumpkin for about an hour. Doing this kills off the bacteria that naturally cause the pumpkin to rot.
If you want to go a step farther, add a coating of vaseline to the exposed fruit parts of the carved pumpkin. This will help to seal off the area from the elements.
I have also used shellac for pumpkins that I want to have a shine. However, this does not work on anything other than the exterior.
If you notice your pumpkin beginning to look a little shriveled, bring it back in and soak it in a bleach bath for a few hours. This will help rehydrate it, and it will retreat it for bacteria growth.
One last suggestion, don’t forget to include some great Halloween treats to go with your decor. Have a Happy Halloween! 🙂