Carve out the bottom
It’s custom to cut a hole at the top of your pumpkin before cleaning out the guts and carving it. Wait! Removing the stem of any fruit or vegetable will cut its life short. Your pumpkin will keep fresh much longer if you cut the bottom or back of the pumpkin. Not only does this keep the stem intact, but moisture also can’t collect on the bottom causing a quicker rot.
Clean your pumpkin
Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to remove the guts and seeds. Scrape the sides to remove as much of the soft walls of the pumpkin as possible. Then, clean the inside with a solution of 1-tablespoon bleach and 1-quart water. Bleach kills bacteria helping to stave off mold and rot.
Let your pumpkin dry out
Cleaning your pumpkin is hard work. Take a break and let it dry inside before carving your design. Don’t set your pumpkin outside to dry. The elements could make it decay quicker. Speed up the drying process with a towel or a fan set to a low speed. Leave your pumpkin in a cool, dry space. Don’t use a blow dryer. Heat will speed bring on the rotting process.
Lock in moisture
After carving, put petroleum jelly on the carved edges and the inside of your pumpkin. This will keep it moisturized ensuring the pumpkin stays fresh longer. Vaseline alternatives include: vegetable or olive oil, clear spray paint, and white glue.
Bring your pumpkin back to life
If your pumpkin has begun to shrivel, soak it in an ice water bath. Submerge your pumpkin in ice-cold water for up to two hours. You can add a small amount of bleach to the water to defend against mold. After the bath and before going back on display, apply moisture to the edges and inside using petroleum jelly or oil.