Cyndi Lauderdale, Extension Agent
November 2, 2009
Preserving Pumpkins and Gourds Properly
So you have picked pumpkins and gourds for your Halloween decorations but how can you take the necessary steps to preserve these vegetables so they will continue to look good until Thanksgiving?
First remember that a light frost won’t hurt pumpkins, but several hard frosts will turn them mushy.
After picking pumpkins and gourds wash or wipe them with warm, soapy water and disinfecting with a solution of 1 1/2 teaspoons of 5.25 percent bleach and one gallon of water, then rinse and dry. The bleach kills bacteria and fungi and reduces rotting.
Store pumpkins in a room or garage above 50 degrees or use them for ornamentation. This method also works for pie pumpkins and miniature pumpkins.
Small decorative gourds need to cure for two or three weeks by spreading them on a sheet of newspaper in a warm room with good air circulation and turning once a day. After the gourds cure, polish them with paste wax if desired.
Large, hard-shell gourds take several months to dry and may become covered with mold. The mold doesn’t injure the shell and will leave interesting patterns on the shell when it’s wiped off. Wiping shells with the bleach water solution will prevent mold from forming.
Depending on the variety, pumpkins, miniature pumpkins and gourds will keep up to six months if preserved properly. Hard shell gourds may last several years. Carved pumpkins will rot and shrivel after about a week, then you can discard them in the compost pile.
For more information on pumpkins and squash, call the Wilson Master Gardener Garden Helpline at 237-0113 Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 1-3 PM or email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.