How to preserve pumpkins and gourds, using just three ingredients. This tried and true method keeps pumpkins and gourds from rotting, and is so easy!
Fall has arrived. It’s your favorite season, and you have been looking forward to it all summer. You purchased your pumpkins & gourds, and brought them home to decorate your home.
They are scattered around your rooms, in little vignettes, and you just love the way everything looks. Perhaps you plan to incorporate a carved pumpkin or two as well. A week later, you see a pumpkin out of place. You pick it up, only to find out that it’s rotten and smelly! Read on for a tried and true way to avoid this heartbreak!
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I’ve included this little trick for how to preserve pumpkins & gourds in a couple of emails to my subscribers, but I wanted to make sure that everyone sees how easy this is. It really works, so your real pumpkins & gourds will last for weeks. This also works to preserve pumpkins intended for carving jack-o-lanterns, and any other types of squash. Make sure to give the pumpkins a bath BEFORE the insides and pumpkin seeds are removed.
Why Pumpkins + Gourds Rot
The thing that makes pumpkins & gourds rot in the first place is the dirt, bacteria, moisture, and mold that they pick up in the fields where they are grown. All of these things are enemies when it comes to bringing pumpkins indoors from outside. In order to preserve them, and prevent the rotting, that dirt, bacteria, and mold must be removed. So if you’ve always wondered how to preserve pumpkins easily, here you go!
What is the best way to preserve a pumpkin?
- Prepare a mixture of bleach, water and dish soap.
(One gallon of water, 2 tablespoons bleach, and a squirt of dish soap.)
- It’s optional, but adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your water mixture helps destroy the bacteria.
- Soak real gourds for 30 minutes.
- Use a bucket, large dishpan, or your kitchen sink.
- Rinse and dry well.
- Before adding to your decor, it’s optional to give your pumpkins a quick coat of spray matte sealer. It helps preserve them even longer.
Tips + Tricks
Place the pumpkins in your sink, turn on the water, then add the bleach and dish soap. The water should be warm, not hot. Roll the pumpkins around several times so the bottoms and tops have time to soak. The stem needs to be soaked as well. You don’t need deep water, because the smaller pumpkins actually float. If you are soaking large pumpkins, simply roll them around until the entire pumpkin has been cleaned.
An Extra Step for Added Success
After their bath, rinse the pumpkins well, and let them dry on a towel. Make sure they are completely dry before they are displayed. There’s an extra step you can take that will make your pumpkins last even longer. If you have time, spray them with a thin coat of matte sealer. Another less convenient way to seal the pumpkins is to apply a very thin coat of petroleum jelly or vegetable oil.
Word of Caution
I’ve had a few readers write and warn against combining dish soap and bleach. If used together, they can omit a harmful gas. The amounts used in this method are so small, and the water component dilutes the other two ingredients. I have NEVER had an issue. If you are concerned, please don’t use this method. Or you can leave out the dish soap ingredient and simply use bleach.
How long will the preserved pumpkins + gourds last?
So how long will pumpkins and gourds last after their bath? My best answer is at least a few weeks, but probably much longer. It depends on the heat and humidity in your house, plus the condition the gourds were in when you bought them.
- Try to choose pumpkins and gourds that are somewhat clean and free from bruises.
- The sooner you buy your gourds, the better. By getting them early in the season, you will get the best choice, and your gourds will be fresh. Waiting until the week before Halloween will guarantee you’ll go home with a pumpkin that’s been sitting around for a while.
- For the past few years, I have purchased my real pumpkins & gourds as soon as they are available at the farm stand, which is usually in early September. Without fail, they have all stayed fresh and firm throughout the fall season.
What readers are saying
“I’ve been preserving pumpkins using your method for several years. How long do they last…well, I tie red & green ribbons on for Christmas, pink for Valentines, Shamrock ribbons for St. Patricks, pastel ribbons for Easter. Yes, they really last that long…I only get rid of them because I’m tired of them being around!”
“I have done this the past few years and the small pumpkins have actually lasted up to 9 months. Really! Hard to believe but true. It’s a great idea.”
Fall is, quite possibly, my favorite time of year. It’s really hard to choose a favorite season, but if I had to, it would be fall. My love for fall is reflected in the content on this website.
I enjoy making fall printables for my email subscribers, there are fall tablescapes, easy autumn decor ideas, and so much more. Fall decor is timeless, and I’ve shared many different ways to welcome autumn into your home.
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