Little background to start off about Halloween and pumpkin carving.
The Druids were a Celtic religious order in Ireland, Britain and France dated back to 700 BC. These ancient customs believed that the spirits of the dead left their graves on All Hallows’ Eve and would want to come back to their old home. The fearful village people did not want to be visited by the ghosts would then dress up in costumes thinking this would scare off any unwanted visiting ghosts.
Irish folklore is where the Jack-O-Lantern is trace back to. The legend says there was an Irishman who was of course named Jack and he was doomed to wander alone in darkness with a lantern made from a hallowed our turnip until Judgment day comes. Thus Jack of the lantern or Jack o’ Lantern became the symbol for a damned soul.
They would then cut up the hollowed out turnips with scary faces and put candles on the inside to also try to scare of any specters from entering their happy home. So when the Irish immigrated to this country in the 1840′s due to the potato fammine they brought these legends and folklore with them and the traditions of Halloween and Jack-O-Lanterns were then started here. Well Pumkin in now used not turnips, Why you ask? The reason that pumpkins were used was because they were move available to them instead of turnips and also easier to carve. So the birth of our American tradition of the carved pumpkin was born.
Seems like timing is the key here first of all depending on where you live if the temp is under 50 degrees you can maybe get away with carving about a week early but may have to soak or treat him like I explain later, otherwise the best time to carve the pumpkin so he is in tip top scary mode is 2 maybe 3 days before just dont let him get warm. For those of you who live in warm climates I would wait and make sure your taking the steps to make him last and not shrivel up. So here are a few of the best methods. There are a few ways you can help extend the life of your newly carved creation The first is the most widely used method and that is petroleum jelly you may know it as Vaseline . Just take a rag and rub it all over the inside of the pumpkin and remember to do the cut out areas also. Just remember not to use where it is too much dripping and making a mess if you plan on using a candle inside, use just enough to make a barrier to keep in moisture to the gorgeous gourd wiping away any extra. Keeping the pumpkins moisture is key in care and using the petroleum jelly really helps to create a block to keep it all in. Bonus is also rubbing some pumpkin pie spices on the inside so when the candle is inside (of course a very small flame – lets be smart and safe) the smell will be wafting through the night air, YUMMY! During the day make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight, that will just make it spoil faster and promote fungus and scary stuff to grow inside, definite yucky right there.
You can also add moisture if you don’t want the mess of jelly and oil is to give it a nice soak. Every pumpkin would just love a nice bath during the day to add that moisture it needs to be in tip top scary mode at night. You can purchase products to add to water to extend the pumpkins life longer while you give it its bath. I have never used it but from what I hear it works really good. There are some pumpkin bath additives sold at craft stores or sometimes where you purchase your pumpkin. This is probably a great method but somewhat time consuming but I am sure worth it. There is also a spray called pumpkin fresh. Your pumpkin gets a spray inside and out daily this is supposta kill any stuff from growing inside and help to extend the life of the pumpkin. If your creation has started to shriveled an longer overnight bath with some ice should perk him back up.
One home remedy is to take a capfull of bleach and add to water in a spray water bottle. This bleach spray if sprayed into the inside daily will add the moisture needed to the pumpkin that is looses but also the addition of a little bleach will prevent molds from growing. This is a Mommy job only due to the chemical use of bleach. Make sure that the bottle is labled properly and stored up and away from the kiddo’s, cause if your are like mine a spray botttle means fun time and we dont want any accidents!
Of course we all know that putting him in the fridge just like any vegetable that is cut up will extend its life. bag him first. But I would think this would be the least of all methods, have you seen my celery in the fridge? (Also soaking the celery in water brings the crisp back FYI) But this method will not prevent the mold if it is in your created spooky friend.
After your little one spends so much time and effort into making his Jack O lantern why not take the extra steps to keep it around a little longer? Do you really want to see it turn into a stinky, mushy mess just a day or two after carving? I know your kiddo’s want it around a long, long, long time and are upset and the tears start and you have to run out and get another the night before Halloween. Just take a few extra minutes and it will be well worth it in the end when your little one can proudly display his masterpiece in pumpkin on the porch Halloween night!
Momma Says: Carve up a gourd of fun with the family.
How to take care of your pumpkin