How long will carved pumpkins last before they rot – first for women

“How long will carved pumpkins last?” is a surprisingly common but reasonable question this time of year. Because, let’s be honest, carving a Halloween pumpkin is a serious commitment! First you have the emotional roller coaster that is picking your perfect pumpkin. After all, there are more than 50 different types of pumpkins grown in the United States to choose from. Do you go fat and round? Tall and thin? Mini and flat? And what about color?

No matter your pumpkin preference, you always end up getting attached to the adorable little (or big) decorative gourd that comes home with you. Choosing how to carve your jack-o-lantern is another round of difficult decisions: What style are you going for? Do you cut it freehand or do you use a pumpkin stencil?

The pumpkin-carving struggle is real — and very time consuming.

The good news? We’ve got your definitive guide to all things pumpkin preservation right here. You’ll not only get answers to common questions like “Why do carved pumpkins rot?” and “How long do carved pumpkins last inside?” but you’ll also find the fascinating history behind jack-o-lanterns and Halloween gourd carving in general. Why do carved pumpkins rot and break down?

But that rotting process can be pretty slow going if the pumpkin is left alone. In fact, a healthy, uncut pumpkin can last for three to six months if it’s stored somewhere dry at about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Illinois. And that’s thanks to the pumpkin’s thick skin, which protects the gourd’s very soft inside from everything outside: extreme weather, fungi, bacteria, mold, and insects. The rotting process really begins the second the inside of a pumpkin is exposed to these things.

So, carving a pumpkin means you are exposing it to those elements, which in turn means your carved pumpkin is going to eventually rot and break down. This is every carved pumpkin’s fate, sadly, which is why some people prefer to stick with no-carve pumpkin ideas for their Halloween decor. But if you’re a carved-pumpkin purist, you can at least slow down your jack-o-lantern’s decline by following some simple rules. How to Keep Carved Pumpkins From Rotting

4. Buy your pumpkin from a local patch. It’s common sense: Produce purchased locally is fresher because it takes less time and distance to get to you. The closer the pumpkin is grown to you, the less bruising and damage it suffers after being picked. Not sure where to find your local pumpkin patch? Local Harvest has a full list of pumpkin growers and U-pick farms near you! How to Make Carved Pumpkins Last Longer

1. Don’t cut the top off. We know, we know — this goes against all pumpkin-carving logic. But when you cut the stem from the rest of the pumpkin, it no longer has access to the nutrients in the stem so it will wilt faster. Instead of cutting from the top, follow in the footsteps of professional pumpkin carvers and make a hole in the back of the pumpkin instead.

3. Give your carved pumpkin an antifungal wash. There are about as many theories on how to go about protecting your pumpkin’s interior from fungi and mold (which speed up the rotting process) as there are types of jack-o-lanterns. Research on carved pumpkin preservation methods is quite limited, but the tests we could find showed that a bleach bath is the most effective way to make your pumpkin last longer. That said, here are the three very common methods:

Spray your pumpkin with peppermint soap. If you want to go the all-natural route, you can wash your carved pumpkin with peppermint dish soap ( peppermint has antifungal properties). To clean your pumpkin, put a small amount of peppermint soap — we recommend Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Liquid Soap ($15.99, Amazon ) — into a clean spray bottle and lightly spray the inside of your carved pumpkin.

4. Seal in moisture with petroleum jelly. Because dehydration is one of the main causes of pumpkin rot, you want to make sure your pumpkin retains as much moisture as possible. Petroleum jelly to the rescue! Apply a thin layer of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly ($6.97 for two, Amazon ) to all of the cut edges of your pumpkin (you might want to use a cotton swab or paper towel in tighter areas) to prevent losing extra moisture.

5. Refrigerate or soak your carved pumpkins overnight. If you live in a warmer area, rather than leaving it out on the porch at night, you could try to extend the life of your jack-o-lantern by putting it in the fridge or a large bucket of cold water. Before putting it in the fridge each night, spray the inside of the pumpkin with the peppermint soap mixture again and then wrap it in a trash bag so that it gets the chance to rehydrate.

You can bet on it! The Farmer’s Almanac notes that there are many insects that eat pumpkin, but two of the biggest threats are cucumber beetles and squash bugs, both of which attack pumpkins at all stages of growth. But when it comes to a jack-o-lantern, your biggest bug problem will be fruit flies, which is why you’ll want to set a trap somewhere near your pumpkin to keep the pests away from your masterpiece.

Not exactly a bug but still a major problem for people who like pumpkins, powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects the leaves of pumpkin plants, so it’s only a problem if you are growing your own pumpkins. The white, powdery mold is pretty easy to spot: It grows on the tops of pumpkin leaves, eventually killing them, and it can also interfere with how the pumpkin ripens. If you see powdery mildew developing on your pumpkins (or any of the plants in your garden, for that matter), there’s a simple, natural remedy that’s been proven effective at treating powdery mildew: Spray milk on it! You can also skip the issue altogether by planting only varieties of pumpkins that are powdery mildew resistant, or PMR. Can carved pumpkins stay inside?

How long are carved pumpkins good for naturally? Well, the answer to that depends on the temperature in your area. Many people have done tests to see when is the earliest they could carve a pumpkin before Halloween, and the general consensus appears to be about five days before October 31. If you live in a cooler area and plan to care for your precious pumpkin as if it were your own child, you might be able to schedule your carving sesh a little sooner, but we wouldn’t recommend any earlier than a week before Halloween. Why are carved pumpkins called jack-o-lanterns, anyway?

As is the case for many of our favorite pastimes, carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween is said to come from an Irish myth: A man named “Stingy Jack” asked the Devil to have a drink with him, but then didn’t want to pay for his drink. Jack managed to get the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pay for the drinks. But instead of paying for the drinks, Jack kept the coin and put it in his pocket next to a silver cross, which meant the Devil was stuck as a coin. Eventually Jack let the Devil go — so long as the Devil didn’t bother Jack for a year.

Once Jack died, God refused to let him into heaven, and the Devil was still upset about Jack’s trickery, so he wouldn’t let Jack into hell, either. Instead, the Devil sent Jack to wander around in the dark with only a piece of burning coal as his source of light. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has roamed the Earth ever since. Over time, the Irish “Jack of the Lantern” became known worldwide as “Jack O’Lantern”! Where did carving pumpkins come from, and what was carved before pumpkins?

Thanks to the myth of Stingy Jack, Irish, Scottish, and English people started making their own Jack O’Lanterns. They carved scary faces into turnips, potatoes, and beets, and then placed them in windows or doorways to keep Stingy Jack and other evil spirits from coming into their homes. As these communities began to come over to the United States, they brought the practice with them. They soon discovered that pumpkins — which are native to America — were even better for making jack-o-lanterns. So that’s where carving pumpkins came from, and that’s how it became a beloved nationwide activity every October. More From FIRST