A big ol' orange pumpkin makes the perfect canvas for a scary scene, a ghostly grimace, a cute kitty cat, any Halloween decoration imaginable.
That might just be the reason why we all love carving pumpkins so much, and why every house on the block has a glowing jack-o'-lantern on their front porch come October.
But after a week or so, that adorably festive decoration starts to turn into a festering blob of mold. And that's the wrong kind of scary.
Though you can't keep your jack-o'-lanterns alive forever (sorry kids), you can try these four tips to maintain their freshness.
1. Start with the freshest pumpkin you can find.
When you pick out your pumpkin, don't settle for any squishy or subpar gourds. Any cuts, dents, or soft spots mean that the pumpkin is well on its way to rotting.
2. Clean it as thoroughly as possible.
Those gnarly stringy guts inside the pumpkin aren't just gross—they can actually make your pumpkin masterpiece go bad really quickly. Scrape out every last piece of that goop to help the jack-o-lantern stay nice and dry.
3. Spray it with lemon juice or peppermint soap.
Since both lemons and peppermint are antifungal, spraying your pumpkin with either substance will help slow down decomposition. Just mix either peppermint castile soap or lemon juice with water at a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle, and spritz the outside and interior of the pumpkin.
4. Give your pumpkin a cold bath.
Too much moisture is certainly the enemy of a peppy jack-o-lantern, but drying out isn't the goal, either. If your expertly carved pumpkin is starting to look shriveled or withered, soak it in a bucket of cold water for at least an hour. This bath essentially rehydrates the pumpkin, keeping it looking as plump as the name suggests.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont