In the Garden: Preserving pumpkins till Halloween

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) It's the pumpkin time of year. And if your kids are anxious to carve their pumpkins this weekend, Charlie Nardozzi has some tips on how to keep them from turning to mush before the big night.

Sharon Meyer: Well this is a beautiful collection of winter squash and pumpkins.

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, and it's almost Halloween. So it's time to go to a local garden center, or farm stand, or your own garden to pick out some pumpkins and winter squash to do a little carving.
So of course you have the classic pumpkins, you know the field pumpkins, but more and more people are using other kinds of pumpkins and winter squash to carve. Little guys like this? Or maybe like the Turk's turban? That would be a funny looking face. Or a jumbo pink banana, that would be a nice one too. You have red ones, you have blue ones, you have white ones, so you can have a whole collection of carved winter squash and pumpkins.

Sharon Meyer: And more importantly, you can eat a lot of these.

Charlie Nardozzi: Yes, you can eat them too. Now there are some tips about carving. Ideally, you would want to wait until right before Halloween to carve them because the pumpkins will start breaking down if you carve them too early. But if you can't wait that long, there are some tips on how to preserve them. So here's one that I artistically carved already.

Sharon Meyer: Very nice job Charlie.

Charlie Nardozzi: Thank you very much. One of the tips is that most people will carve off the top, and that's not a great idea because that has an integral part of the structure of the pumpkin. So a better idea is to carve the back to pull everything out, the seeds and the guts and all of that stuff. And that way the structure of the pumpkin will hold a little bit longer.

Sharon Meyer: Well it would also be easier to put the candle in too.

Charlie Nardozzi: Now the other thing to do, is to put it in a pail of water. You want to disinfect your pumpkin in a pail of water, and first you want to put a couple of teaspoons per gallon of bleach. And what that will do is disinfect your pumpkin. You want to leave it in overnight. Just let it float like a boat and that will kill any of the rot organisms and bacteria. The next morning, you want to pull it out and then you want to preserve the cut spots by putting some vaseline on them. So take some vaseline and rub it right along wherever you cut it, and that will stop the dehydration of your pumkin, so the face of your pumpkin will stay beautiful a lot longer.