How To Preserve Pumpkins and Make Them Last Longer

If you want to learn how to preserve your pumpkins and make them last longer, you’re in the right place! Pumpkins are expensive these days, especially the heirloom ones, so we want those suckers to last as long as possible, right?

Earlier this week, I came home from a local farm, with a trunk load of beautiful pumpkins. Because it’s still mid-September, and I want these to last as long as possible, I took some steps to preserve my pumpkins and make them last longer, before getting them set up in my Fall Front Porch design.

How To Preserve Pumpkins and Make Them Last Longer

Trim the stems of your pumpkins if necessary

A couple of my pumpkins had excessively long stems, or a stem with a rotten spot on it. Before you do anything else to your pumpkins, make sure the stems are the length you prefer (especially if you’re going to stack them), and that you’ve trimmed away any rotten or moldy parts of the stem. You don’t want the mold to grow and cause decay of the pumpkin.

I just used my garden shears to clip the bad part away.

Clean & disinfect your pumpkins

Next, you want to clean your pumpkins well, removing any dirt or mud left from the pumpkin patch. I just used a wet cloth to wipe away the dirt.

Now, it’s time to disinfect your pumpkins.

Things you will need:

  • bleach (or vinegar if you want a non-toxic option)
  • water
  • a spray bottle OR a bucket/bowl to hold your bleach/water mixture
  • an old wrag or paper towels

Mix 1 part bleach with 3 parts water. I poured mine into an empty spray bottle, but you could also mix the solution in a bowl/bucket and dip your wrag into it. If you use vinegar, I’d use it full-strength, without the water mixed in.

Spray the entire surface of your pumpkin with the bleach/water solution (or dampen your cloth in the bleach mixture) and wipe down the entire shell of the pumpkin thoroughly.

Pay special attention to making sure the stem and the blossom spot on the bottom are both sprayed with bleach solution.

The bleach kills any bacteria or fungal spores on the pumpkin’s rind and stem, preventing premature rot.

Let the pumpkins dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

I lined my pumpkins up on an old towel in the driveway to clean & bleach them.

Seal with a clear spray paint

I used a satin finish, which gave my pumpkins just a very slight sheen, but you can use whatever you prefer or have on hand. If you want your pumpkins shiny, go for a glossy spray. If you want them to look very natural, use a matte spray.

Clear Satin Spray Paint

Coat each pumpkin with a nice even spray of your clear paint on all surfaces, including the stem and blossom spot on the bottom. The goal is to give the pumpkins a good seal, and keep any moisture or bacteria from entering and beginning the rotting process.

One of my white pumpkins had a little bit of a blemish, and I made sure to go back and give that particular spot an extra coat after the first was dry, to make sure I sealed it as well as possible. Any knicks or holes in the rind will be the first spots that start to soften, so make sure to coat them well with your sealant, without over-saturating.

I sprayed the top halves of my pumkins and let the spray dry for about 30 minutes, before rolling them all over and spraying the bottom halves.

After another 30 minutes, they were dry and ready to be used in my Front Porch Decor!

NOTE: These pumpkins sit on my front porch, and will be discarded after use. I’ve never had any animals try to nibble on them, as I suspect they can small/detect the spray paint. If you typically feed your pumpkins to wildlife after use, then I wouldn’t use this technique.

Protect Your Pumpkins From Extreme Weather

The cleaning/bleaching/sealing process can extend the life of your pumpkins by several weeks, but extreme weather is also a danger to your pumpkins, causing them to decay at a faster-than-average rate.

If temperatures in your area are extremely warm, or below freezing, don’t leave your pumpkins out in the elements.

If we have an extra hot spell in the early fall after I’ve decorated with pumpkins, I try to move them into the shade during the hottest part of the day.

As we move into late fall, I set my pumpkins inside the garage on nights that are projected to drop below freezing.

By following the proper cleaning and sealing steps, as well as protecting my pumpkins from extreme weather, I’m hoping to keep them usable for my fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. The goal is to not have to throw them away until I’m ready to put out my Christmas greenery!

Can you believe I just said, “Christmas”?! 😳

Resources:

Rust-Oleum American Accents Spray Paint, 12 Oz, Gloss Clear

Rust-Oleum American Accents Spray Paint, 12 Oz, Matte Clear

This post contains affiliate links.

24 thoughts on “How To Preserve Pumpkins and Make Them Last Longer

  1. This is a great idea! I live in Florida, and things deteriorate really quickly here. But I’m sure this technique will buy me some time. Thank you! Pinning and saving this for sure. Thank you!

  2. Such great tips Niky.
    Thank you for sharing how to preserve pumpkins and make them last longer at Create, Bake, Grow and Gather this week. I’m delighted to be featuring your post at this weeks party and pinning too.
    Hugs,
    Kerryanne

  3. I’m going to use vinegar as I leave mine in the garden after Halloween for compost. This year several of the seeds left grew into pumpkin vines 🙂 I love the heirloom pumpkins, they are always so pretty.

  4. These are really good tips! Thank you for this. . . I just hate it when my beautiful pumpkins are ruined before the season is over.

    Thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

  5. I have the cutest little mini white pumpkins from my garden and would love to have them last throughout the fall season. Thanks for these great tips on preserving pumpkins. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your post with us on Embracing Home and Family link-up. I hope you join us again this Friday!

    -Cherelle

  6. This is a trick I need to know!the only thing is I can’t leave them for the deer to eat.

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