Nothing is more unfestive than a sagging, rotting Jack-O-Lantern on your front porch. To be sure your Trick-or-Treaters enjoy your pumpkin artwork through Halloween, we’ve put together some of the best tips to help prolong Jack’s life just a bit longer.
First, try not to carve too early. The pumpkin is a fruit, and once it has been carved, it’s exposed to air and will accelerate the decaying process.
So, wait as long as you can, especially if you live in high-humidity regions.
Additionally, be sure that your pumpkin is fully cleaned of the “guts” and seeds. Scrape the interior walls as thoroughly as possible to remove all stringy material. The cleaner the pumpkin, the slower it will decay.
5 Tips To Keep Your Jack-O-Lantern Fresher Longer
After you’ve cleaned and carved your pumpkin:
- Fill a spray bottle with a solution of one tablespoon bleach per quart of water. Spray interior and cut surfaces liberally, allowing it to penetrate and dry. This formula is said to kill off surface bacteria and mold that can lead to rot.
- Another method is to lightly spray the cut interior with a solution of 1 tablespoon peppermint Castile soap in a quart of water. Peppermint is a natural anti-fungal and will slow the decaying processing. (Use either spray method #1 or #2, not both).
- Apply petroleum jelly or olive oil to the cut surfaces to prevent dehydration over time.
- Spraying the cut surfaces with hairspray can also slow down the decaying process. Products designed for anti-humidity work really well.
- Instead of cutting the stem out of the top of the pumpkin to be carved, cut the hole on the bottom of the pumpkin and remove the piece. Then simply place the clean, carved pumpkin on top of a candle or solar light. This method not only makes for easier candle lighting but allows moisture to escape rather than pool at the bottom of the pumpkin, which accelerates the rotting process (however, see bonus, tip, below).
- Bonus: You can also cut a circular hole at the back (save the piece). Make it large enough so you can clean out and carve your design, then simply insert a candle or solar light through the hole (replace the piece with a toothpick). Removing the top cuts off nutrients to the fruit so it will dry out faster, and cutting the bottom can make a mess as pumpkins give off a lot of water once cut.
Freelance writer Beth Herman was consulted for this story.