Carving pumpkins is a beloved Halloween tradition. The problem lies in keeping the carved pumpkin looking nice for an extended period of time!
Jack-o-lanterns are meant to be spooky, but not because they're starting to rot. There are ways you can prevent your creation from shriveling away, however. Thomas Andres, a researcher at the New York Botanical Garden, gave Smithsonian some helpful tips to keep your jack-o-lantern looking just as you intended!
1. Pick a hard pumpkin
Also make sure there's no blotches, or other blemishes on the surface. This can lead to quicker rotting.
"You don't want them to have any frost damage,"� says Andres. "You can tell that by looking at the fruit."� Watery dark spots on the top of the pumpkin are an indication of frost damage."
2. Be Patient
"You want to wait until the last moment before carving pumpkins," Andres says. "But once you carve them, there are a few tricks to making them last a little bit longer."�
Pumpkins tend to rot within a week, so make sure you aren't too ahead of yourself!
3. Lemon Juice
Putting lemon juice on the inside of your pumpkin after you've carved it will help slow down the enzymes which make the pumpkin rot. It's the same as adding juice to cut apples to prevent browning. You can also use Vaseline or vegetable oil.
4. Spray it!
Spraying your pumpkin with a bleach solution can keep fungal growth away and give you some extra time with your creation!
5. Keep It Cool
"If you really have a prize-winning carving, and it is not too big a fruit, you could put it in the refrigerator when it is not on display,"� says Andres. According to Andres, the ideal temperature is from the upper 50s to lower 60s.
6. NO CANDLES!
"As nice as candles in jack o'lanterns are, they really do shorten the lifespan of the pumpkin since the heat from the flame ends up cooking the flesh,"� says Andres. "A flickering lightbulb or glow-stick can be used instead."�