Wendy Rush

Fall is upon us! And that means Halloween is right around the corner. If you’re like me, you wait until at least mid-October to carve your pumpkin, just to make sure it lasts through October 31st. But there are ways you can ensure your Jack-O-Lantern lasts longer, and we’ve put together a list. But first, some pumpkin-spiced history.

Did you know that pumpkins are almost 10,000 years old? And we thought tortoises hung around a while! According to the University of California, scientists have found pumpkin seeds in Mexico that date back as far as 7000 B.C. The word “pumpkin” originates from the Greek word “peopon” which means “large melon”. 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced every year in the United States, 80% of which is harvested just for the month of October. There are more varieties of pumpkin than you might think. 45, to be exact. And although orange is the most common color, you can also find them in green, yellow and red. And because pumpkins are winter squashes, they are technically a fruit, like cucumbers. They are highly nutritious and an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin A and beta-carotene. And here’s something you may not have known. The entire pumpkin is edible. Even the stem and leaves.

But my favorite piece of pumpkin trivia is how the Jack-O-Lantern came to be. Immigrants brought the tradition over from Ireland. There, they carved potatoes and turnips, but switched to pumpkins in America because they were easier to carve. The Jack-O-Lantern name came from an unruly chap called Stingy Jack, who was a thing of legend in Ireland, famous for playing tricks on people.

So now that you’ve been pumpkinformed (yep, that happened), how do you keep your pumpkin fresher longer for the fall season? Here’s a list of things that can help extend the life of your winter squash masterpiece. So you can get to carving sooner!

Wendy Rush, 96.3KKLZ Las Vegas

  • 1. Pick The Right Pumpkin

    Recently harvested orange pumpkins in a random pile

    The first step is making sure you have a good pumpkin. There are carving pumpkins and there are pie pumpkins. You want to find one that is large and doesn’t have a lot of flesh on the inside. So tap on the pumpkin and make sure it sounds hollow. Also, check for soft or dark spots. Especially on the bottom. Buying a pumpkin from a patch versus a grocery store might better ensure a good squash.

  • 2. Protect The Exterior From Rotting

    A sad decaying pumpkin waitng for the end of Halloween.

    While pumpkins typically start to rot after a week (so carve accordingly), there are a few tricks to slow the rotting process down. Including covering the outside of the pumpkin with lemon juice. Or after carving, cover the cut parts with vegetable oil or vaseline to block moisture. Spraying it with bleach solution can also help keep fungus away.

  • 3. Watch Out For Extreme Temperatures

    Two pumpkins covered with snow for a cold Halloween night

    Freezing temperatures will rot your pumpkin faster when it thaws. On the flip side, extreme heat will also destroy the pumpkin faster. So take your Jack-O-Lantern inside when the temperature gets too hot or too cold.

  • 4. Don't Use Real Candles

    Pumpkins and Skull On Wooden Table

    For the same reason, candles should be avoided inside the Jack-O-Lantern. The heat emitted cooks the inside of the pumpkin and leads to faster rotting. So opt for a glow stick or battery-operated candle instead.

  • 5. Scrape The Inside Well

    Pumpkin being hollowed out to make a Jack o' lantern.

    Less flesh on the inside means less attraction for fungus and pests. So make sure you scrape the dickens out of the inside of that bad boy.

  • 6. Don't Leave The Pumpkin On The Ground

    A hungry gray squirrel helps himself to pumpkin seeds from Halloween Pumpkin

    It’s a lot easier for pests to get into your Jack-O-Lantern if it’s sitting on the ground, so put it on a table or bale of hay to prolong the decaying process.

  • 7. Protect From Fruit Flies

    Beautifully Lighted Halloween Carved Pumpkins of Insects

    Fruit Flies love them some carved pumpkin. So put a fruit fly trap (or two) near your Jack-O-Lantern to ensure those little buggers head elsewhere.

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