how to avoid a moldy pumpkin


If you’re like us, you spent a glorious fall weekend leaping around pumpkin patches and picking apples right off the tree. Divine! But before we start carving our jack-o-lantern masterpieces, we thought it’d be a good idea to remind ourselves what we learned last year. As you may recall, our 2010 porch pumpkins had a tough time. First, they got nibbled on by some squirrels. Then, they got moldy and basically caved in.

1. Don’t put your pumpkins out too soon. Rainy damp days can be deadly. Take them inside when it’s moist out!
2. After you carve it, soak it in cold water for a bit.
3. Smear some Vaseline on the carved, exposed edges.
4. If you’re worried about hungry critters taking a bite, mist it with a diluted cayenne pepper mix or try some Bitter Apple.

Got any other tips? Tell us here — and send us photos of your carved pumpkins! We’ll be sharing ours soon.

From our partners
Mike Johnson

The vaseline keeps the edges from drying out and shriveling, but it doesn’t do much to prevent mold. I spray the pumpkin with Lysol inside & out; I’m sure you could spray it with dilute bleach instead. Then reapply it from time to time, more often in warmer weather. I usually wait till I see a little bit of decay before I reapply. I’ve made pumpkin planters, with a decoration carved into (not through) the face, and they’ve lasted a month even when filled with soil and watered occasionally.

If you really want to keep it a long time, you would use Lysol or bleach on the outside of the pumpkin, and sterilize your carving tools, before carving., just like your surgeon does. Then more Lysol, and vaseline on all the cut edges. And keep it out of the sun.


To keep the squirrels away from your uncarved pumpkin try spraying it with hairspray.


What a great tip – I’ll remember that for when I get kids :)

I came to comment on using bleach instead, but Mike Johnson beat me to it. Clorox makes a good product to spray on after carving.

All these suggestions lean towards the highly skilled. Mine is very simple but does help– put a piece of cardboard (preferably corrugated) under the pumpkin. The air and something about the cardboard itself actually delays the bottom rot that occurs.