There’s nothing like spending your time and money carving the perfect Halloween pumpkin — only to watch it rot a week later! If you’re wondering, “how long does a carved pumpkin last?”, KCL has the best tips to extend the shelf life of your fresh pumpkin.
If you’re eager to make your front porch fall-ready, keep these tips in mind before you carve pumpkins. We have some Halloween front porch decoration ideas that will smash your #FallPorchGoals.
Follow these simple steps to make your pumpkin or jack-o’-lantern last long after Halloween is over — without having to wait until the day before trick-or-treating starts to carve it! The answer to “how long does a carved pumpkin last?” will finally be answered.
How to save on Halloween pumpkins:
If you’re looking for a great deal on pumpkins, think about buying them closer to Oct. 31. You may find a few locations looking to unload pumpkins before they go bad or before Halloween passes.
For the best deals on pumpkins you can buy in early October, check out KCL’s Best Prices on Pumpkins post. Pumpkins can be priced by the pound or at a flat rate.
How long does a pumpkin last?
Pumpkins that haven’t been carved will last a surprisingly long time. As long as they aren’t stored in extreme heat or cold, they’ll last two to three months. Once you carve a pumpkin, you’ve only got about three to five days before it shrivels up and gets gross — unless, of course, you use these tips! *wink*
How to Make Pumpkins Last
1. Choose a hard pumpkin without any dark spots.
Your first step to a long-lasting pumpkin is choosing the right one! Look for a hard pumpkin that doesn’t have any blemishes or dark spots.
Dark spots are a sign of frost damage, which will make your pumpkin more susceptible to rot. Since you want your pumpkin to last longer than one week, this is the first step to ensure that you can skip the rotting process.
2. Don’t cut a hole in the top of your pumpkin — instead, cut the back or bottom to make it last longer.
Carving around the stem on the top will make your pumpkin die faster because it’s exposed to air.
Cut a hole in the back or bottom of your Halloween pumpkin to scoop the guts out instead. This strategy for your carved pumpkins can help with good air circulation.
3. Use vinegar and vaseline to keep mold at bay for your pumpkins.
- 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
- Vaseline petroleum jelly
- 1 quart of cool water
- First, scoop out every seed and stringy pumpkin gut. Then submerge the pumpkin in a vinegar solution. You will use 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 quart of water. You could also brine the pumpkin in a salt or sugar solution, but this may attract bugs when the pumpkins are left outside.
- Once the pumpkin has dried completely, rub Vaseline petroleum jelly on the inside and cut edges. The seal will help keep the pumpkin from growing mold too quickly. This formula should make your pumpkin last. Never use bleach, as it can harm animals when they try to eat it.
If you don’t have Vaseline, try WD-40 or cooking oil. You might want to try Rustoleum Matte Clear Enamel as well, since that can help keep your pumpkin from rotting, too. Simply spray all your pumpkins to seal them.
By the way, we have the best tips on how to roast pumpkin seeds perfectly every time.
4. Spray your Halloween pumpkin with peppermint to stop insects and pumpkin fungus.
Peppermint has antifungal properties and helps keep insects like ants away.
Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil and water in a spray bottle, then lightly mist the inside and cut edges daily or whenever your pumpkin is looking dry.
5. Give your Halloween pumpkin an ice bath to help it last longer.
If your pumpkin is looking shriveled, submerge it in ice water for up to two hours. Add a capful of vinegar to the water to help prevent mold.
Then add Vaseline and peppermint spray to complete your pumpkin’s spa treatment! Repeat this process whenever your pumpkin is looking dull or wrinkled.
6. Skip the humidity and keep your pumpkin between 55 – 65 degrees to avoid rot.
A pumpkin will last longer when it’s kept between 55 – 65 degrees. Heat or freezing temperatures will cause your pumpkin to shrivel up almost overnight. So bring the pumpkin inside your garage or store it in your refrigerator until needed. If you store pumpkins, you can extend the life of your carved pumpkins by simply ensuring there’s a dark place or adequate air circulation for them to enjoy.
7. Store silica gel packets inside your Halloween pumpkin. They are non-toxic, however could pose as a choking risk so keep them away from tiny hands (or paws).
Don’t throw away the silica gel packets you find inside a new purse or pair of shoes. Instead, start storing them in a mason jar for pumpkin season. How does it work? Silica is used as a desiccant, which is a substance that’s used to keep products stable and dry. The packets will absorb the pumpkin moisture so it won’t rot or mold. Cool, eh?
While you should never, ever eat silica gel packets, they are considered non-toxic. However, there’s still a danger in using them — they are considered a choking hazard. If you have curious children or animals, keep this Jack ‘o lantern out of reach.
If you don’t have any handy, you can stock up on silica gel packets on Amazon. Two packets per pumpkin are enough to help it last nearly twice as long.
8. Use battery-operated tea lights instead of real candles to illuminate your pumpkin patch pick.
Avoid using a flame inside your jack-o’-lantern. The heat will cause your pumpkin to rot quickly.
Instead, buy battery-operated tea lights or pumpkin-specific LED lights for $1.25 each at Dollar Tree, or try this bulk package of LED tea lights from Amazon. You can save them to use again next year, and you don’t have to worry when you forget to blow one out!
9. Make a hot pepper spray to keep the squirrels from eating your pumpkin.
I love animals, but squirrels drive me nuts! Not only are they always bothering my garden, but they ruin my pumpkins every year. The solution is hot peppers — cayenne, Jalapeno peppers, tabasco sauce, or red pepper flakes. Capsaicin is the active chemical that makes them taste hot, and squirrels hate it.
Make your own concoction:
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of desired hot spice
- 3 drops of Dawn dish soap
The dish soap helps the spice to stick to the pumpkin. You may need to reapply after a heavy rainfall.
How to recycle your pumpkins after Halloween:
Once your healthy pumpkins survive the season, it’s time to recycle them! Extend your pumpkin’s life by recycling. You may choose to compost them or look for local opportunities such as zoo donations, as some zoos use them for feedings. Just make sure to throw pumpkins that have been soaked in chemicals away, since they could harm animals if eaten!
Some cities may even host a pumpkin smash event to smash and compost your pumpkin together as a community. Full pumpkin composting programs vary by city, so check your municipality for notices.