I did it. For the first time ever I carved a pumpkin I’m not embarrassed to show anyone. Huzzah! I still kind of think that using a stencil is cheating, but after years of duds I was willing to try anything. Once I successfully got the thing taped to the pumpkin, it was a breeze. It’s sad to think it won’t last forever so I did a little research on how to keep it looking fresh for as long as possible. Here are some of the tips that have helped so far:
– Wash your pumpkin with warm soapy water to clean it and reduce the spread of mold. *FYI: Pumpkins are often fertilized with manure so you don’t want to skip this step. Just learned that this year. Fun!
– Immediately soak your pumpkin (yes, the entire thing) in a sink, bucket, or tub filled with a simple DIY Pumpkin Preservative mixture of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of cold water. I also added two trays of ice cubes to mine and forced them into the interior cavity of my carved pumpkin to help keep it chilled while it re-hydrated. Soak for 8 hour or overnight. (I promise it will not turn your pumpkin to mush.) This re-hydrates and discourages mold.
– Let air dry, then spray the inside and outside with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach in cold water before smearing petroleum jelly on all the cut surfaces. Re-apply as necessary to protect cut surfaces from air and spray your pumpkin with preservative spray daily to discourage the growth of mold. I just mixed mine in a travel spray bottle labeled with a cut Post-it covered with clear tape. Quick + easy. Make sure you remember not to re-use the spray bottle for anything else though since bleach is a chemical. Once we pack up our Halloween decorations, I’ll probably just store it (rinsed and dried) so I can re-use next year.
– Don’t carve the top. Leaving the stem intact helps the pumpkin retain moisture. I also found that I gained more surface carving space at the top and had an easier time accessing the flameless candle by carving the hole in the bottom.
– Use a flameless candle. I love the look of a flickering candle too, but it dries the pumpkin out so we switched to some flameless ones I found on Amazon. Inglow is my favorite brand because the candles have a wax exterior so they feel like real candles. I also found that their glow and flicker is a bit more realistic than other brands.
Hope some of these tips help! Don’t take my word for it, try them out; I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised. So far, my pumpkin is mold free. And if you have any tips that you have found particularly effective, I’m love to hear them.