When Should You Throw Away Your Pumpkin?
From a Halloween-inspired jack-o'-lantern to a few strategically placed gourds for your Thanksgiving centerpiece, pumpkins are a big part of fall decorating. However, if you keep a pumpkin past its shelf life, the decoration can become a major source of mold and bacteria - or worse, a welcome mat for bugs and rodents. Know when to discard your pumpkin so you can celebrate the season and avoid having to clean up a big mess after the holidays.
Whole, uncarved pumpkins can last about three months. If they're kept indoors with the stems intact, you're likely to go up to three months without any rot. On the other hand, if they're kept outside in the cold, they could be exposed to frost, which will eventually dampen and soften their exterior. This can lead to rot and mold, not only ruining the appearance of your pumpkins, but also causing them to smell.
If you've carved the pumpkin or removed the stem, its shelf life is drastically shortened. Once the insides of the pumpkin are exposed to air, mold is more likely to grow inside of it and rot will occur sooner. You'll want to discard your perfectly carved masterpiece after just a few days.
The Pumpkin Afterlife
There are many ways to use your pumpkin after its expiration date. For starters, you can use its remains as compost for your garden. Simply bury it in the space you wish to grow produce the following year and it will enrich the soil.
If you don't garden, you can also just scoop out the seeds and turn them into a snack. After scooping out the guts of your pumpkin, wash off the seeds and dry them. Heat your oven to 300 degrees, brush the seeds with melted butter and salt, and arrange them on a baking sheet. Cook for 45 minutes and enjoy! You'll be able to get the most use out of your pumpkin and enjoy a light snack as well.