Keeping your pumpkins fresh through the whole holiday season can be a challenge. However, there are ways to prolong the life of your pumpkins, whether you are preserving your harvest to eat, or just trying to make your grocery store pumpkin last longer. Here’s how!
1.) Pick Pumpkins At The Right Time
If you didn’t grow the pumpkins yourself, you can likely skip on to step #3 – but if you gave our creative ways to grow pumpkins article a shot, step one to a properly preserved pumpkin is picking it when it is actually ripe. Your pumpkins will last much longer if they are picked when they have reached maturity. You can tell this by the color (compare it to the seed packet) and when the rind is very hard. The shell of the pumpkin should begin to lose its shine, and you should not be able to scratch it with your fingernail.
2.) Cure Your Pumpkins Properly
Step 2 for how to grow and harvest pumpkins successfully, is proper curing. Curing should last 10 days, and you’ll want to keep them in an area where the temperature is between 80 to 85 degrees. If you can’t cure your pumpkins indoors, it’s important to keep them up off the ground while curing occurs. This prevents them from rotting on the bottom in the moist soil! You can do this using straw, or pieces of wood.
3.) Wash Your Pumpkins With A Weak Bleach Solution
Mix 2 tablespoons of bleach into a gallon of water. Wash down the skin of your pumpkin with a cloth to prevent rot. If you plan to eat the pumpkins, don’t worry, this is harmless. It will easily wash off and not effect the fruit when you’re ready to eat them.
4.) Keep Pumpkins Off The Concrete and Grass
Whether you are storing your pumpkins long-term, or using them in your yard displays. Keep your pumpkins off the concrete and grass! Both of these scenarios encourage rot and should be avoided. Instead, place a piece of wood, straw, or something else underneath them. You can also place your pumpkins on shelves to keep them safe.
5.) Beware of the heat
It’s best to store or display your pumpkins where it’s cool. Ideal storage temperature for pumpkins is 50 to 60 degrees if you’re trying to store them long-term to preserve your harvest. That’s, of course, not always possible for pumpkins you plan to put on display, but you should still make an effort to at least keep them out of the sunlight. Tucking them into an area under the porch, or under the shade of a tree will result in longer lasting decorations and slow down rot.
6.) Check Your Pumpkins For Rot Frequently
Inspect your pumpkins regularly for signs of rot. This should be apparent from soft spots on the rind. Discard these pumpkins, or add them to your compost bin. If they were touching any other nearby pumpkins, make sure to wash those pumpkins down with your bleach solution again to make sure the rot does not spread to your other pumpkins.
How Long Will An Uncut Pumpkin Last?
Properly stored pumpkins can last 3-6 months at the right temperatures. However, an uncarved display pumpkin which you might have out on your lawn will likely last 1-3 months. This, of course, also depends on how healthy your pumpkin was when it was originally picked.