Carving Pumpkins and Preserving Your Creations!

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Carving jack-o-lantern pumpkins is a great tradition for families and youth but it is such a bummer when your creation starts to mold and break down the minute you carve it. Preserving your master piece is as easy as adding a few extra steps in your creative process. Follow the tips below and watch the video created by the NC State Alumni Association.

  1. Pick your perfect pumpkin. And if you are carving your pumpkin pick your perfect pattern. (Below we have some NC State University patterns for all you Wolfpack fans).width="310" height="342"
  2. Wash your pumpkin before carving. If you are going to compost your pumpkin or use it to feed livestock or wildlife using a bleach alternative will be a better option. Even if  you are not carving your pumpkin then you should still wash your pumpkins to help them stay fresh longer.
    1. Bleach solution is ok if you are not planning to compost or feed your pumpkin to animals after you are done with it. Wash your pumpkin in a 10% bleach solution before carving (9-parts water to 1-part chlorine bleach).
    2. Vinegar based solutions are best if feeding animals or composting your pumpkin. Wash your pumpkins in 10 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Fill a sink or some type basin and soak your pumpkin for 20-30 minutes in the bath, then pull them out and let them air-dry.
  3. Pick your pattern to carve but don’t carve it to early if you are wanting to use it for Halloween. Plan to carve 8-10 days before for your special event or Halloween so you have a fresher creation. Once carved the pumpkins will start to rot even after preventative washings.
  4. Don’t cut the hole in the top of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin from the bottom or the back.
  5. If you are using a real candle for a light source poke small holes in the top to release some of the heat. Artificial light is safer and better for your pumpkin as it doesn’t dry out your pumpkin like a real candle will. Use a glow stick or an electric candle to light your pumpkin. Candles create heat and shortening the life of your pumpkin.
  6. As long as the stem is attached the pumpkin will stay fresher looking because the pumpkin is still getting nutrients from the stem. So pick carving pumpkins with green stems still attached and don’t carry your pumpkins by the stem so it stays attached longer.
  7. Remove the guts of your pumpkin and dry the inside of the pumpkin.
  8. Carve your pumpkin starting with the smaller cuts first, cutting completely through the pulp with each cut.
  9. Spray, wipe, or submerge your pumpkin in the bleach or vinegar solution and allow to dry. Pat dry as much as possible and then allow to finish drying.
  10. Use vegetable oil or petroleum jelly to seal the cuts in your pumpkin to help preserve your pumpkin but be cautious and do not use vegetable oil or petroleum jelly if you are using a real candle because these items are flammable.
  11. Place the pumpkin in a protected area away from direct sun, rain, and frost and if you want to preserve it a little longer you can refrigerate your pumpkin when not in use.
  12. Also spraying your pumpkin down with your solution of either bleach or vinegar daily will help to preserve it longer.

Remember you can paint or add embellishments to a pumpkin if you don’t want to carve the pumpkin and it will stay fresher longer. width="376" height="254"

Below is a great video from the NC State Alumni Association which has some helpful tips for carving your perfect pumpkin.

Pack Pumpkin Templates

Article and video from the

Create your perfect Pack Pumpkins with our free NC State carving templates just in time for Halloween! Download all three below.

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Watch the Alumni Association’s very own Halloween fanatic, Associate Executive Director Randy Ham ’82, provide tips on how to create a longer-lasting and spooktacular jack-o’-lantern.

Howling Wolf

Download here.

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NC State

Download here.

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Wuf Head

Download here.width="768" height="808"