How to Buy a Pumpkin That Will Last Longer
Although there are a few ways to preserve your pumpkin once you’ve brought it home, the most effective way to ensure that your jack-o-lantern lasts an entire season is to buy the freshest one possible to begin with. Palmer suggests starting your search at a local farm that grows live pumpkins in their fields. “Some growers will ‘seed’ their pumpkin patches with pumpkins they bought from wholesalers,” he warns. “If you don’t see the pumpkin still on the vine, don’t be afraid to ask the grower where the pumpkins were picked.” Don’t live near a pumpkin patch? Be sure to carefully inspect pumpkins for quality and freshness when shopping at a grocery store. Look for one that's firm with no soft areas or discoloration and is free from mold spots.
How to Preserve an Uncarved Pumpkin
Found the perfect pumpkin, but not quite ready to carve it? You’re in luck: Preserving an uncarved pumpkin until you're ready to carve isn’t difficult. Store the pumpkin in a cool, dry environment (ideally between 45 and 55° F) and keep it away from sunlight and damp. After it’s carved, Palmer suggests storing your pumpkin in a cool, dry area whenever it’s not on display.
How to Keep Your Pumpkin Fresh After You Carve It
Once you carve your pumpkin, Palmer recommends patting the inside of the pumpkin dry with a paper towel, then spraying it with a homemade pumpkin preservative spray. To make, mix one tablespoon of bleach (or vinegar, if you don’t have bleach) with one quart of water. Lightly spray the inside of the pumpkin, as well as any cut areas, such as the jack-o-lantern’s face. Be careful with that bleach solution, though–it can lighten treated areas to a yellow color. For that reason, you might want to use this method just once or twice before the pumpkin is ready to be retired.
How to Preserve Your Pumpkin With Silica Beads
This may sound weird, but it works! Hang on to those silica beads you find in packing material or in a new purse. (Don’t have any on hand? You can also buy them on Amazon.) To use, "open the silica package and gently push the beads into the flesh of the pumpkin,” says Palmer. “Be careful not to push too hard, or you risk your pumpkin looking like it developed a case of measles.” To make sure you don’t use too many beads, try sticking to a ration of ¾ grams of silica for every 100 cubic inches of pumpkin. Palmer doesn’t recommend using both the silica method and the bleach method together.