When our young granddaughter drew the face she wanted on her pumpkin – we carved it – as she drew it – to preserve the preciousness of youth! Hope your Jack o’ lantern burns brightly this year!
By following a few simple instructions, you can carve your Jack o’ lantern well in advance of the big night without the worry of him spoiling. There is also a way to cook your carved pumpkin when the celebrations are over. Just be sure to follow the steps I’ve outlined. If you plan to eat your pumpkin
do not treat it with anything but water. Carve it as close to the time you plan to use it as you can. After the big night, rinse and cut up Jack and cook him following the directions on the link below (Pumpkin 101), or store him in the fridge until you can cook him (no more than a day or two – pumpkin grows mold very quickly!) You can have a Jack o’ Lantern and eat it too! (Pumpkin cheesecake, Crockpot Pumpkin Apple Pie Cake, and Spiced Pumpkin Poppers, just to name a few …. For instructions how to prep and cook your pumpkin click here : Pumpkin 101
Here are the instructions for extending the life of Jack for up to 14 days!
How to extend the Life of a Jack o’ Lantern
There are several methods of prolonging the life of your Jack o’ Lantern – but this is the one that seems to yield the best results. – Anywhere from 10 to 14 days!
After Carving Your Jack o’ Lantern -Soak it in a bleach solution. Combine 1 tsp. bleach and 1 gallon of water. Let the pumpkin soak in this solution for at least 1 hour – and up to 8 hours….but soaking too long can over hydrate the pumpkin – causing it to rot….so an hour or two should do.
(The purpose of the soak is to hydrate the pumpkin to keep it from drying out too quickly. The bleach will kill most of the surface bacteria and mold spores on the pumpkin.)
Wipe the pumpkin dry inside and out using a clean rag or paper towel to remove most of the moisture inside the pumpkin. Dry the outside of the pumpkin, as well. Excess moisture is a death sentence to Jack.
Spray with additional bleach. Combine 1 Tbsp. bleach with 1 quart water in a spray bottle. Spray the exposed flesh with this stronger bleach solution.
(The bleach used in the soaking solution was a small amount – intended to stop the growth of surface bacteria. Using too much bleach in the soaking solution can weaken the pumpkin. By spraying the pumpkin with this stronger solution, you will help keep mold from forming.)
Air dry the pumpkin upside-down for at least 20 minutes. To prevent puddles of moisture from accumulating inside the pumpkin, invert it onto a clean, dry rag and let it dry completely.
Coat the cut areas with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil. Rub all of the exposed flesh with a fine coating of petroleum jelly or vegetable oil. Wipe excess off the shell of the pumpkin.
The petroleum jelly locks in moisture, helping keep the pumpkin from dehydrating too quickly. It will also help block new growth of bacteria and mold.
Make sure you bleach before applying petroleum jelly. If you don’t kill the existing bacteria and mold already on the pumpkin you will trap it on the surface of the pumpkin and hasten the demise of Jack..
Keep the pumpkin cool and moist. It is best to display Jack – in all his splender and glory – in a place that does not get direct sunlight. Keeping it cool will extend the life of your gourd. If you really love your creation – consider storing it in the fridge during the day.