How to Preserve Carved Pumpkins

By: Erica Wery

Surely I am not the only one who gets depressed after carving a pumpkin, and seeing it promptly turn into a pile of orange mush. It’s time to wage war against your pumpkin’s inevitable demise, and prolong its life. There are multiple tips and tricks that people swear by, but three stand out with positive results.

Method #1- Bleach:
After carving your pumpkin, submerse it entirely into a bucket of water and bleach. The ratio you will need to use is 1 tsp bleach to 1 gallon of water. You can let your pumpkin soak for up to 8 hours and you may repeat this process daily or whenever your pumpkin starts to look dried out.

clorox diluted in water can preserve pumpkins

clorox diluted in water can preserve pumpkins

pumpkin fresh

Pumpkin Fresh is a commercial product for just this purpose.

A variation of this method is to use common household spray cleaners containing bleach. A common product would be Clorox Cleanup. In a well ventilated area (preferably outside) spray all cut edges and the entire inside of the pumpkin. These sprays can be quite strong, so it is a good idea to let it air out outside.

Method #2- Commercial Pumpkin Preservative Sprays:
Believe it or not, there are actual sprays marketed specifically for the task of preserving carved pumpkins. One of the most popular of these sprays is called “Pumpkin Fresh”. The solution contains water, sodium tetraborate decahydrate (borax), and sodium benzoate (a preservative and fungicide). The label describes it as a “fungicidal solution.” This spray can be expensive though, and runs $4.99 for a single 4 oz bottle.

Method #3- Vinegar:
This method is essentially identical to the bleach soaking method, except you use pure undiluted vinegar. You are basically pickling your carved pumpkin in order to preserve it. Vinegar is a natural anti-microbial and anti-bacterial and works great at preventing things such as mold from developing.

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