How to Preserve Pumpkins the Right Way

Keep the spooky spirit going all October long by learning how to preserve pumpkins.

With October comes all kinds of beloved fall traditions: spooky movies, Halloween candy, pumpkin spice lattes and hearty casseroles. But there’s one October hallmark we start getting excited about long before the leaves start to change colors—and that’s pumpkin carving.

Whether you go for the traditional triangle eyes and a toothy grin or mix it up with some truly artsy designs, there’s no denying the fun of turning that orange orb into a Halloween icon. But if you look up how long pumpkins last, you’ll find out that the answer is…not very long. Of course, you want to keep that delightful creation fresh all throughout the month. So if you’re wondering how to keep pumpkins from rotting, you’ll be happy to know there are some easy ways to do so!

And if you’re carving pumpkins, of course you’ll be left with tons of seeds. Make sure you know how to roast pumpkin seeds.

How to Preserve a Carved Pumpkin

First, you need to start with a healthy pumpkin. Make sure there are no soft spots or discolored areas, and avoid any gourd that’s too bruised. To know exactly what to look for, check out our guide to picking the perfect pumpkin before you head to the patch!

Once you’ve figured out how to carve your pumpkin, it’s time to get to preserving.

To keep your pumpkins looking brand-new throughout October, just fill a large tub with 10 parts water and 1 part vinegar. Let the gourds soak for 20-30 minutes in the bath, then pull them out and let them air-dry. Voila! You’ve got some pretty pumpkins that definitely won’t show their age.

Why does this work? The vinegar kills fungus, making it hard for the pumpkin to rot. That’s why vinegar-soaked pumpkins look so new; they’re unblemished by the grossness that inevitably befalls their untreated peers. And best of all, this method is safe for wildlife, too, so if a squirrel or bird thinks your pumpkin is a tasty snack, they can chow down safely. (Hopefully this doesn’t happen until after Halloween.)

You can also follow these steps to keep your carved pumpkin looking fresh as the day it was cut:

  • Put the pumpkin in the refrigerator when it’s not on display.
  • Coat it in clear acrylic spray to keep it safe from bugs and bacteria.
  • Use battery-operated lights rather than candles to reduce the amount of heat its exposted to.

How to Preserve an Uncarved Pumpkin

There’s another way to keep pumpkins from rotting—and you’ve probably got what you need for it in your medicine cabinet. Yep, you can use petroleum jelly to keep pumpkins fresh! For whole pumpkins, rub petroleum jelly all over to keep ’em from going bad and keep pests away. (For carved pumpkins, spread the jelly into every nook and cranny, too!)

@athomewithshannonLet us know your best Pumpkin Hack idea and we will try it too!! #FallDIY #momhack #lifehacks #parentinghacks #fyp #mom #hack♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod

What to Make with Pumpkin Seeds
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Emily Hannemann
Emily adores both food and writing, so combining those passions as a writer for Taste of Home makes perfect sense. Her work has also appeared in Birds & Blooms and on TV Insider. When she’s not eating peanut butter straight from the jar, you'll find her running or birdwatching. Emily is currently a journalism graduate student at the University of Missouri.