How to keep your pumpkin from rotting before Halloween

Here are some tips to keep your Jack-O-Lantern fresh before the big day

BLACKSBURG, Va. – You might love to get into the Halloween spirit early, but your Jack-O-Lanterns might be looking a little scarier than they should come time for trick or treating.

Virginia Cooperative Extension horticulture expert Ashley Edwards shared a few tips to keep your pumpkin fresh this year.

First, Edwards said it’s important to wait until the pumpkins are fully mature before you harvest them.

“When picking your pumpkin, look for a deep, solid color. The shell should be hard and not easily punctured by a fingernail,” said Edwards. “Pumpkins can withstand a light frost, but you will want to harvest prior to an expected hard freeze.”

Secondly, Edwards said you should wait to carve them as close to Halloween as you can, but there are some ways to keep them from molding if you can’t stand to wait that long.

Before you get to carving, Edwards suggested washing the outer casing of the pumpkin with cool, soapy water. After you get it squeaky clean, you can rinse it with a 10% bleach solution.

Edwards said after you rinse it with bleach, you should let it dry, then get to carving.

Before you get to carving, Edwards suggested washing the outer casing of the pumpkin with cool, soapy water. After you get it squeaky clean, you can rinse it with a 10% bleach solution.

  • Submerge the pumpkin in 10% bleach solution for at least eight hours to kill off bacteria,
  • Seal cuts with petroleum jelly to prevent moisture loss. If you do this, do not use a real candle since petroleum jelly is flammable.

When Halloween has come and gone, you can put your pumpkin to good use.

Edwards said you can add it to your compost pile or feed it to livestock or local wildlife if no toxic materials have been used.

If you’re looking for 2022 Halloween events, you can find them here.


About the Author:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.