It’s that time of year again. Halloween’s just around the corner and many of us are considering buying a pumpkin to liven up our front gardens ready for the trick or treaters. Some of us are even bringing pumpkins inside ready for Halloween parties. My friends are moving Halloween forward to the 26th October this year because the weekend after is the closest one to Bonfire night. It’s the return of that all familiar headache – if you buy a pumpkin on the 25th, how do you make it last all the way til the 1st November?
The answer lies in both the choosing and preservation method. Pumpkins are on their way out when they dry out and when they develop mould. You need to stop both things from happening to keep yours looking fresh.
Choosing and preparing your pumpkin
Choose an unmarked pumpkin with a thick stem and make sure that it’s not squishy to touch! If there are soft spots and it’s uneven in colour, it’ll be on its way out in a few days. If you can, pick one from a local greengrocers rather than a supermarket as chances are it won’t have travelled miles and been bumped around in the back of a truck.
We all carve faces into our pumpkins to make them look eerie, finishing up with a glowing candle to emphasise their leering shadows. I don’t know about you but I don’t normally clean mine if it’s going to get dirty outside my front door. I’ve learnt that by washing its outside skin before you carve it, you’ll stop bacteria from falling inside while you work. Afterwards, make sure that there’s enough ventilation through the top to stop the heat from building up inside and drying it out.
Preserving carved pumpkins
The bleach/lemon juice method
There are a lot of myths out there but the bleach or lemon juice method is the most effective way of preserving carved pumpkins. Spray a diluted bleach based product or lemon juice solution all over the pumpkin daily – 15ml of bleach in 946 ml of water or a 50/50 lemon juice to water mixture if you’re making it at home. Microorganisms that speed up decay can’t survive in these conditions.
The soaking method
You can also place the pumpkin in a bowl of cold water, carved side down for 1-8 hours. This way, you’ll prolong its dehydration for a much longer period. You’re building up its water reserves!
The storage method
Use this on its own or as an extra preserver along with the bleach or soaking method. If you cover your pumpkin with plastic wrapping and place it in the fridge, it won’t start to rot as quickly. Just don’t freeze it or it’ll start going soft in a couple of hours.
Happy early Halloween!
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