Keeping carved jack-o’-lanterns fresh starts with picking the best pumpkins for carving.
Following simple steps after carving and while the Halloween decorations are on display can make the carved pumpkins look fresh longer, slow their collapse and revive the shrivelled pumpkins.
Pick the Best Pumpkins for Carving
To make sure carved pumpkins last until Halloween, begin by choosing the best pumpkins for carving.
The best pumpkins are not bruised, do not have any mould around the stem, and are smooth with even colouring, according to Pumpkin Masters, a pumpkin-carving-tools and supplies company.
Lighter-coloured pumpkins are softer and easier to carve but will not last as long after being carved, the company advises. Pumpkin Masters recommends that the pumpkin has a flat bottom, so it sits properly.
When buying a pumpkin, pick one that does not have scratches, dents, or gouges, recommends Paper Pumpkins, a website that specializes in carving pumpkins for Halloween. These blemishes can make the pumpkin rot faster. After choosing the best pumpkin, transport it home carefully.
Prevent the pumpkin from rolling around in the car by wrapping a blanket around the pumpkin. This will prevent new bruises from forming.
Ways to Keep Carved Pumpkins Fresh
After choosing the perfect pumpkin, it is time to carve it. While the traditional method is to cut the top off the pumpkin, Pumpkin Masters has an alternative method that may keep the pumpkin looking fresh longer.
Instead of cutting a hole in the top, the company recommends cutting the hole for carving at the bottom of the pumpkin.
One benefit of this method is that the top will not fall into the pumpkin as the carved pumpkin begins to shrink and collapse. It is also easy to light a candle and set the carved pumpkin down on top instead of trying to reach into light the candle.
To slow the decaying process, rub vegetable oil or petroleum jelly on all the cut edges of the pumpkin. Paper Pumpkins suggests washing the inside of the pumpkin with a mild mixture of bleach and water to slow decay and kill mould.
Prevent small animals from destroying carved pumpkins displayed outside as Halloween decorations by sprinkling Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper in and around the pumpkin.
While many people simply carve their pumpkins and put them out on display, there are ways to keep them fresh enough to use as Halloween decorations for parties or displays on Halloween night.
Pumpkin Masters recommends spraying the pumpkin with water, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and storing it in the refrigerator to keep the pumpkin fresh when not on display. Soaking a shrivelled pumpkin in a bucket of water can revive the pumpkin. Dry the pumpkin after it has soaked.
Lighting the Jack-o’-Lantern
The choice of real or artificial lighting makes a big difference in preserving carved pumpkins. Battery-powered lights work well, and the quality is improving to make LED-lights more realistic. Battery-powered lights do not produce heat to damage the pumpkin and are not a fire hazard.
There are ways to make lighting the jack-o’-lantern with candles less destructive to carved pumpkins. The Pumpkin Lady, a pumpkin-carving website that offers tons of carving stencils for free and for sale, recommends lighting the candle for a few minutes and then blowing it out.
A dark area will appear on the inside of the pumpkin. Cut a hole in this area to create a chimney hole to allow the heat to escape.
The type of candle used makes a difference, as well. Using votive candles in the clear, glass candle holders works best. The glass holder makes the candle last longer, and the flame brighter.
Tea light candles work for smaller pumpkins. Glow sticks are a flame-free option. You can use several glow sticks at once and placing the jack-o’-lantern in a very dark area to get the best effect from glow sticks.
To make carved pumpkins look fresh longer, select the best pumpkins for carving. Preserving the Halloween decorations requires caring for the pumpkin after carving with a bleach solution and petroleum jelly.
Store pumpkins in the refrigerator when not on display and revive shrivelled pumpkins by soaking them in a bucket of water.
Using battery-powered lights eliminates heat that can destroy carved pumpkins faster. Carve a chimney hole and use glass candle holders when using real candles in carved pumpkins.