The Best Time to Carve a Pumpkin so It Doesn’t Go Bad on Halloween

It’s officially pumpkin season and you know what that means. If you’re a suburban parent, not only will you head to the pumpkin patch to enjoy a hay ride, a corn maze, apple cider donuts, and pay $117 to slap pumpkins across a huge field, you’re also wondering when can I carve these bad guys to get the most out of a pumpkin lantern without them rotting on my porch before the big day? Let’s find out.

How long do uncarved pumpkins keep?

First, let’s discuss how long a pumpkin can stay full if left uncut. Under the right conditions, generally healthy pumpkins can be stored uncut for 8 to 12 weeks. And what are those conditions?

Well, first of all, never forget about the pumpkin, because it is a fruit. While their tough, thick appearance may suggest impenetrability and longevity, they are actually humble members of the winter squash family and grow best in cool, shady conditions. According to Oregon State University Horticulturalists, the ideal storage temperature for pumpkins is between 50 and 55°F. Extended periods of rain, excessive moisture, heat, and frost can adversely affect the longevity of a gourd.

So if you live in the warm and humid Deep South where temperatures can still hover between 80s and October, or in humid or cool climates, leaving them on your porch for a whole month will cause them to die early. them on the kitchen table and bring the temperature to 74 degrees. Instead, choose suitable storage areas such as basements, cellars, and garages (off-floor, which can trap moisture and speed up rotting).

How long do carved pumpkins last and when to buy them?

figuratively? Carved pumpkins last about a hot second. Literally, under average conditions, gourd lanterns can stay healthy for three to five days; in better conditions, perhaps a week or a little longer. While it’s really tempting to get your marker, stencils, and carving tools out the second ghosts and skeletons show up at your front door, it’s best to delay pumpkin carving for as long as possible; optimally, up to a couple of days (or a day ) before Halloween.

So, when should you buy decorative orange pumpkins? While some diehard fall fans may run to the store on September 1st, this is unwise. As Mark Evan of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers told Real Simple , the best time to buy a pumpkin is within a week of you plan to carve it. In addition to looking for “a large pumpkin, heavy for its size, with a flawless skin,” we also need to look out for “a sure sign of an old pumpkin: a dry, brittle stem. Instead, look for a fresh green stem that is 3 to 5 inches long.”

How to extend the life of a pumpkin

In addition to storing in cool, dry places and putting off slicing no more than three days before Halloween, it’s a good idea to “bath” pumpkins in cool water to wash farm bacteria off them when you first bring them home. Sprinkling them with vinegar and wiping them dry aids the cleaning process (and can add a layer of protection against dastardly toothy squirrels). Drying them with a towel after a particularly wet night outside can also slow their decomposition. (Another way to ensure longevity for your pumpkins? Choose small pumpkins. Mini pumpkins can last six to 12 months .)

And once they’re cut out, peppermint helps to apply. According to Metro , “After you’ve taken your pumpkin’s innards out, you should spray them with mint dishwashing liquid, as mint is antifungal and slows down the gourd’s decay.”

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