Getting the most out of your Halloween pumpkins

Published 5:16 pm Friday, October 7, 2016

By Ty Torrance

One of the surest signs that fall is upon us is the appearance of pumpkins for sale along the roadside. Generally speaking, if pumpkins are ready for harvest, frost can’t be far behind. The search for the perfect pumpkin has become almost as important as finding the perfect Christmas tree. The tradition of hollowed out pumpkins originated in Ireland and Scotland where they hollowed out turnips and placed embers or candles inside. Irish families who immigrated to America brought the tradition with them, but they replaced the turnips with pumpkins which were native to the New World. I am glad pumpkins were native to America, how would you like to carve a turnip?

The name pumpkin originated from “pepon” the Greek word for “Large Melon”. Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine. American Colonists sliced off pumpkin tips, removed the seeds and filled the inside with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of our pumpkin pie.

Email newsletter signup

Pumpkins come in many shapes and sizes. Over the last couple of years, miniature pumpkins have become very popular. Many pumpkins will be carved into Jack-O-Lanterns this year. Did you carve a great pumpkin masterpiece last year only to have it rot days before Halloween?  Each pumpkin carver has their own idea of how the perfectly carved pumpkin might look like, but all of them want it to last as long as possible on the front porch.

So, how do you preserve your carved pumpkin to make it last longer? The intact skin of a pumpkin will protect it from opportunistic organisms that wish to break it down.  The day you carve your pumpkin you open the door for these organisms to do their job.  Simple dehydration begins the moment the pumpkin is carved. Here is something you can try to help preserve the pumpkin a little longer.  Make a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the pumpkin inside and out over covering all the cut areas with the solution. This will kill the bacteria and mold that cause rotting. Let the solution penetrate and dry for about 20 minutes.  Also, keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible.  Now, don’t get upset with me when your pumpkin doesn’t last until Christmas. 

My suggestion can only help your pumpkin last a week or so longer than doing nothing at all.