Before carving your Halloween pumpkin this year, Virginia Cooperative Extension horticulture expert Ashley Edwards says it’s important to carve them as close to Halloween as you can to avoid early rotting.
If you want your pumpkin to look fresh for the holiday, Edwards says to be sure not to carve too early. Before carving, she recommends washing the pumpkin with cool, soapy water, rinsing it in a 10 percent bleach solution, and letting it dry completely.
After carving, Edwards recommends submerging the pumpkin again in a 10 percent bleach solution for at least 8 hours. This can be helpful in killing off bacteria that can cause mold to grow and the pumpkin to rot faster.
Edwards recommends lining the inside of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly to seal any cuts and prevent moisture loss. But, Edwards warns, don’t use a real candle in the pumpkin but a battery-operated candle instead since petroleum jelly is flammable.
To dispose of the pumpkin, Edwards says to add it to the compost pile as a good use of the leftover organic matter for future gardening. On the other hand, if the pumpkin shell is still intact and non-toxic decorative materials have been used, the pumpkin is still fit for processing and eating.
Pumpkins can also be fed to livestock or local wildlife if no toxic decorative materials have been used.