Tips for Preserving a Carved Pumpkin
Why do pumpkins get moldy and rotten so quickly?
The reason pumpkins rot so quickly is because they are drying out, they are loosing moisture. The best way to stop this is to slow down the dehydration process. There are several effective methods in preserving the life of a pumpkin. Below are some of the most effective methods and most exercised amongst pumpkin carvers.
Soak the pumpkins
Soak the pumpkins in water (in a bathtub or buckets), just make sure they don’t bounce around too much if you have delicate carvings.
How long should I soak them?
My pumpkins were carved several days before Halloween. They began to look somewhat dry and didn’t have the “freshly carved look.” I soaked the pumpkins in cold water in the bathtub for about an hour and a half. I was shocked to see the pumpkins came out looking freshly carved and just in time for the party! This method works VERY effectively! However, I recommend not letting the pumpkins soak for too long. Prolonged exposure to water causes the stencils to get slightly soft, so make sure you monitor them. I would start with an hour and add minutes as necessary, checking the stenciled areas. Once soaking is complete, drain out any excess water, wipe VERY gently with a towel and light them up!
Store in a cool place
Another suggestion I highly recommend is to store your pumpkins in the coolest area in or around your home (like the garage or extra fridge). Place pumpkins in a shaded and cool area when not in use! I also sprayed my pumpkins every few hours with a water bottle to keep them from drying out. Another tip is to cover the pumpkin in plastic cling wrap.
Coating the pumpkin in petroleum jelly
One technique is to coat the entire inside as well as the stenciled/carved areas with petroleum jelly, it acts like a covering to keep the moisture inside. Before application, I used cold water in a spray bottle to keep the pumpkins hydrated and than applied the jelly. I found this method to work moderately.
I have also heard of spraying the insides of the pumpkin with some water and bleach, I’ve never tested this theory but I have heard it works very well. Check out this Pumpkin Preserving experiment.
Pumpkin preserving products
There are also several products to help with preservation if petroleum jelly or putting pumpkins in the bath tub is too much for you! Several products available to preserve the life of a pumpkin include; Pumpkin Dunk’n, Pumpkin Embalmer and Pumpkin Fresh – an easy spray on, low cost way to keep those pumpkins looking good!
Carve the bottom!
By carving the opening in the bottom of the pumpkin (instead of the top), it allows the stem to retain the moisture. This theory has not been thoroughly tested, but it also makes the pumpkin look nice with a carving! If you are worried about the top burning, you can cut a little chimney at the top.
Here is a quick tip to help aid you from swapping candles all night (that is if you still use candles for your pumpkins). Put all the candles you are going to use for the pumpkins in the fridge for an hour. Wrap them in tin foil or cling wrap (to keep the wick dry) and place them in the fridge. It will help the candles last longer and burn more evenly!