Halloween can be such a fun time of year, but it also has it’s perils. Like getting too excited about the holiday, carving your pumpkin too early, and winding up with THIS by Halloween eve:
A rotting, collapsing Jack-o-Lantern. Blech.
Let’s face it, for the most part the life span of a carved pumpkin seems to be about 3 days. That’s not a lot of time to enjoy it. Walmart knows that’s a problem and asked me to share my favorite way to make your pumpkin / Jack-o-Lantern last longer with all of you!
Before you can combat the problem, you really need to understand what it is. Rotting and molding are caused by miniscule bacteria and mold in the environment. Pumpkins are an agricultural product, a type of squash to be exact. They have a pretty long shelf life right out of the field–nature has graced them with a nice solid skin that keeps all those bacteria and mold on the outside–for quite a while. As soon as you cut into it, everything changes. You have opened up the PERFECT environment for those little baddies to thrive in. They go to work eating away at your pumpkin’s flesh and next thing you know you’ve got black spots of mold inside and a collapsing face!
There are a couple of simple steps to make your Jack O Lantern last longer–and just one ingredient. . . Bleach!
How To Make Your Jack O Lantern Last Longer
A) Start with a pumpkin that is in good condition.
When you pick your pumpkin out at Walmart, examine it carefully. Any nicks, scratches that aren’t scarred over, and soft spots mean bacteria and mold have already started to attack your squash. You want the shell of the pumpkin completely intact!
The soft stringy flesh on the inside of the pumpkin has a lot more moisture in it then the exterior walls. More moisture means better conditions for bacteria and mold–so you want all that stuff out of there! Walmart carries a couple of different styles of carving sets online and in the store that come with special scraper/scoops to make this easier. Trust me, buy the kit if you don’t already have one! It makes it so much easier and lasts for years.
C) Soak your carved pumpkin in a bleach water solution.
Bleach diluted in water will kill all the mold and bacteria that are currently on your pumpkin. Sure–more will eventually land on the surface and spread, that’s why your pumpkin will still eventually start to mold. But this “disinfecting” step will double to triple the lifespan of your Jack O Lantern!
To soak your pumpkin, find a large bucket. I like the 5 gallon buckets you can buy in the paint section of Walmart (note–I actually called the company phone number imprinted on the bucket, they are food safe–although for a decoration like this it doesn’t really matter.) You use about a tablespoon of bleach for each gallon of water. I used a 1/4 cup in the 4 gallons of water I put in the bucket.
You may need to weigh down your pumpkin to keep everything under the water. It’s important to have all the surfaces in contact with the bleach water.
Let the pumpkin soak for about an hour, then remove, drain and dry on an old towel.
NOTE: This is BLEACH. It will can holes through your clothing and leach color out of things. Don’t splash it on your clothing, your rug, your shoes. . .don’t use a good towel or anything you’ll be upset to have bleached or possibly holes eaten through when you set it out to dry.
Now you can enjoy your carved pumpkin for at least a week! Remember–cooler temperatures (but not freezing) will help your pumpkin last longer 😉
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.