First things first: Whole uncut pumpkins can last up to 12 weeks if they are stored properly. Cut pumpkins can last up to 10 days if they too are stored properly.
As with all things, the answer to how long do pumpkins last is it depends.
Every tasty pumpkin recipe begins with a ripened pumpkin and a properly ripe one at that!
I learned this the hard way by using an overly ripened pumpkin in a recipe previously. Let’s just say that didn’t end well.
The pumpkin bread that I tried to make wasn’t moist and beautiful as I had hoped.
So this is why I learned from experience that you really do need to know how long pumpkins last.
The first thing that you should know about pumpkins is that they are contrary little things. They have specific conditions in which they thrive and if those conditions aren’t met, they will spoil on you.
It would be best if you took note of the weather you’re putting them in as well.
But I’m getting ahead of myself!
More on these later.
Do pumpkins go bad?
Yes, they do. And when they finally do, you’ll first begin to notice that soft texture on the bottom.
When you notice this soft texture you will also likely notice that they have started to leak a liquid of sorts.
After that, these ‘bad” pumpkins will start looking moldy.
And that mold will come in many colors. If you see the mold developing, that is your first sign to throw the pumpkins away.
So here’s the thing: Once pumpkins begin to get soft, they degrade very fast.
How to tell when a pumpkin has gone bad?
When trying to figure out if a pumpkin has gone bad, you will want to use your sense of sight, sense of smell, and touch. These senses will be your best tools.
First things first: Look for damage to the pumpkin skin; alongside the soft spots, pumpkins with discolorations are also a big no-no.
In contrast, the pumpkin should be firm and feature hard skin.
Now onto the sense of smell. You begin by smelling the pumpkin, its stem, and blossom ends in particular.
If they come with an unpleasant odor at the ends, these pumpkins are already overripe.
How long do pumpkins last?
According to Steve Reiners, a horticulturist at Cornell University, this will depend on the pumpkin’s state, plus the weather it is being subjected to.
He shared that if the pumpkin was healthy when picked and that diseases were managed in the field accordingly, it could last eight to 12 weeks. He added, however, that jack-o-lanterns don’t fare as well as the uncarved pumpkins as they only last five to 10 days.
On the other hand, if you mean to store your pumpkins, the best storage temperature should range between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reiners further said that cold weather could affect the lifespan of your pumpkins. For instance, a slight amount of frost could already cause a minor discoloration. Finally, pumpkins simply cannot deal with a temperature that drops below freezing.
Once the pumpkin freezes and warms up, its skin should soften, bound to rot.
How to store pumpkins
There are two ways to store your pumpkins.
What’s curing anyway?
When you’re dealing with vegetables, this refers to when you make them sit out, dry, right with the intention to allow them to develop that tougher skin that protects them.
This also allows pumpkins’ blemishes to heal; the ripening of anything that isn’t quite ripened enough takes place during this phase.
Note that pumpkins need to be cured for at least ten days. Another thing to consider is the temperature, which should be between 80-85 Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 80-85.
- Ensure that pumpkins have plenty of suitable space between them so that they can breathe.
- If it rains or it’s cold outside, it’s recommended that you look for space indoors where curing can resume.
When your pumpkins finally get cured, you may store them in a cool and dry place.
On paper, they should be stored under 50-55 Fahrenheit, with an ideal humidity level between 50-70%.
When these are observed, your pumpkins should keep for two to three months.
Should I store pumpkins in the refrigerator?
1. Storing cut pumpkin
If you have cut your pumpkin and want to store it in the fridge, here is what you should do.
The best way to store cut pumpkin is by wrapping it first using a cling wrap then placing it in the refrigerator.
It doesn’t matter if you scoop out the seeds or not. The storage life is about the same either.
Personally, I prefer to go ahead and scoop out the seeds.
Cut pumpkin will last about 3 days in the refrigerator.
2. Storing canned pumpkin
Now, how about a can of pumpkin? Accordingly, it can last five to seven days when stored in the fridge.
It is also suggested that you move the leftover purée from the can to an airtight container. I try not to store any opened canned foods in the can.
Feel free to put a date and a label on that container. That way you will know when you need to toss it.
How to make pumpkins last longer?
There are many ways to keep your pumpkins lasting longer.
Here are some of the tried and tested. Note: Do not eat the pumpkin after you do this.
1. First, you must pick a healthy pumpkin. In general, the fewer spots it has, the better.
2. Whenever you can, avoid carving until the absolute last minute. Once its skin is exposed, its life starts ticking officially.
3. One of the more popular ways to preserve both wholes and carved pumpkins is by means of a bleach soak. Here’s how you can soak them good:
- Ensure that you get yourself first a pair of gloves on.
- Prepare a soak of one teaspoon of bleach in a gallon of water.
- Leave the pumpkin (carved or otherwise) soaking in it for an hour to overnight.
4. If you feel like bleach is a bit over the top, a milder alternative is to dilute your pumpkins in one tablespoon of peppermint dish soap in a quart of water. You can pour the mixture into a spray bottle, then spritz it inside and outside the pumpkin. Allow it to dry.
The bottom line
Pumpkins are meant to evoke many thoughts of scrumptiousness – from creamy soups, moist bread, spice mix, to the tastiest of pies, there’s truly a reason why they are sought-after.
But, of course, for them to be enjoyed thoroughly, one must be equipped with the right know-how.
This short yet meaningful discussion we just had should be able to kickstart your love for pumpkins, carved or otherwise!