As you know, within a day or two (sometimes overnight) your pumpkin carvings will begin to shrivel. After 4-5 days, rot and fungus destroys your work of art. The number one question we receive from fellow pumpkin carving enthusiasts is "How do I make my pumpkins last longer?"  

Over the past 15 years, we've tried every 'home remedy' technique and tested every product available, in order to extend the life of our own pumpkins. The bottom line is that a carved pumpkin is no different than any other cut fruit or vegetable. Mother Nature will eventually reclaim her prize, but we have developed and follow these seven steps for Jack o'Lantern longevity:

The Eight Secret Steps for Jack-O-Lantern Longevity

Step 1: Pumpkin Selection

You will most likely be tempted to select a pumpkin with a nice smooth skin, but beware. Smooth pumpkins are like that because they contain more water than the wrinkled, 'ugly' ones. The more water that a pumpkin starts out with before it is carved, the more water it will loose through evaporation after it is carved, and will shrivel. A wrinkled pumpkin starts out much dryer, so there is less moisture to loose after it is carved, and will naturally shrivel less.

Step 2: Cleanliness

As soon as you bring your pumpkins home from the pumpkin patch or grocery store, wash them in anti-bacterial dish soap. This will remove all of the dirt, fertilizers, insecticides and microbial life that are already at work to consume your pumpkin!

This goes for your carving tools as well. Even if they look clean, it is a good idea to wash your carving tools before you use them on your pumpkins. Of course you will want to wash your tools after their use as well.

Step 3: Initial Storage

If at all possible, keep your pumpkins in the refrigerator. Don't forget the fact that you are working with a piece of fruit. It should be treated as such. If your pumpkin is too large, or you do not have room in your refrigerator, be sure to store your pumpkin in a cool place.

Step 4: Carving

Try to delay the actual carving process as long as possible. We know it is tempting to carve your masterpiece as soon as you bring your pumpkin home, but no matter what precautions you take, your carvings will never look as good as they do when they are fresh.

Step 5: Preservatives

There are many 'home remedies' that people try to use, but some of them actually speed up the process of decay!

Many folks recommend coating the cut edges with petroleum jelly, or spraying the entire pumpkin with some sort of sealant to prevent dehydration. This is a big mistake. How did the ancient Egyptians preserve their mummies? Did they seal in the juices, or did they dry them out?

Only Dr. Frybrain's Pumpkin Embalmer® patent pending formula removes moisture to prevent mold and mildew, while keeping your pumpkins crisp and firm, and increases pH (reduces acidity) to retard the growth of bacteria (the cause of rot).

Step 6: Displaying

We can not stress enough, the fact that a Jack o'Lantern is a fruit, and should be treated as such. Not only should you limit the amount of time you leave your carved pumpkins out, you should also limit the amount of time you illuminate them.

Think about it. What are you doing to your pumpkin when you place a lit candle inside? You are literally cooking it from the inside out. Also, we never place a candle inside a pumpkin without first cutting a chimney hole in the top, to vent out the heat.

Step 7: Daily Storage

When not on display, put your Jack o'Lanterns inside a plastic garbage bag. This is no different than keeping your carrot and celery sticks in a zip-lock sandwich bag when you pack your lunch. You don't leave them out on the porch, do you? If at all possible keep your Jack o'Lanterns in the refrigerator. Let's face it, no one is going to be looking at your masterpiece at 3:00 am anyway, so you may as well use that time to extend your pumpkin's life! If you do not have room in your refrigerator, then at least keep it somewhere to protect it from both the heat of the day and possibly freezing temperatures at night.

Step 8: Repair and Recovery

No matter what steps you take, your pumpkin will eventually succumb to the elements. It will begin to shrivel as it starts to dry out. When it does, you can usually bring it back to life by soaking it in cold water over night, but not any longer. Extra soaking time can swell the pumpkin and break any intricate or delicate carvings. Also, bacteria need two things to survive an multiply

    1. Food (your pumpkin)
    2. Water

If a part(s) your carving breaks off, you can usually reattach with toothpicks or straight pins.