The best way to preserve pumpkin will depend on what kind of pumpkin you want to preserve and why. You can preserve carved or sculpted pumpkins by keeping them moist and clean, but whole, decorative or ornate pumpkins need to be dried to last. If you plan to preserve a sugar pumpkin-a type of pumpkin that is smaller in size, and has a smoother, sweeter flesh-for culinary purposes, you will need to cook it and freeze it. Continue reading to learn more about each way of preserving pumpkin.
Method 1 of 3: Preserving Carved Yellow Pumpkins
Step 1. Soak the pumpkin in the bleach solution
Mix 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of bleach with 1 gallon (4 liters) of water. Let the flask soak in this solution for at least 1 hour.
- The water is meant to hydrate the pumpkin flesh and prevent it from drying out too quickly. The bleach is an antimicrobial agent that will kill most of the surface bacteria and mold spores on the pumpkin.
- You can soak the pumpkin for up to 8 hours, but soaking it for too long can actually allow water to seep into the pumpkin, making it too wet, and making it more prone to rot.
Step 2. Dry the pumpkin by wiping it
Use a clean rag or tissue paper to remove most of the water that has pooled inside the pumpkin. Dry the outside of the pumpkin too.
Allowing too much water to pool inside the pumpkin can actually cause the pumpkin to rot
Step 3. Spray with additional bleach
Mix 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of bleach with 1 liter of water in a spray bottle. Wet the exposed pumpkin flesh with a stronger bleach solution.
Bleach is used in the soaking solution in small amounts, only intended to stop the growth of bacteria on the surface. Using too much bleach in the soaking water can soften the pumpkin. By spraying the pumpkin with a stronger bleach solution, you can clean it further, without softening the structure of the pumpkin
Step 4. Continue to dry the pumpkin by turning it upside down
Prevent puddles from getting inside the pumpkin by placing it on a clean, dry cloth and allowing it to dry completely.
Leave the pumpkin there for 20 minutes to dry. However, you can leave it for up to an hour, if you want
Step 5. Coat the cut area with vaseline
Apply a thin layer of Vaseline on all exposed pumpkin flesh.
- The vaseline will lock in the moisture, preventing the pumpkin from dehydrating as quickly as it would otherwise. Vaseline will also inhibit the growth of new bacteria and fungi.
- Do not use Vaseline without bleaching it first. Bleach is needed to kill bacteria and fungi that are already present on the pumpkin. If you skip this step and go straight to Vaseline, you'll actually be trapping the bacteria and mold that's already on the surface of the pumpkin, speeding up the spoilage process.
- Vegetable oil or vegetable oil in spray form can also be used instead of vaseline.
Step 6. Remove any residue or excess Vaseline or oil by wiping it
If you find excess Vaseline on the part of the pumpkin that is not carved, clean it by wiping it with a clean cloth or tissue paper.
Note that this is done for the sake of preserving the pumpkin's appearance, not out of necessity
Step 7. Keep the pumpkin moist and cool
Display your pumpkin in a place that is not exposed to direct sunlight. Shady places are the best.
- Heat will speed up the spoilage process and placing it in a dry place will cause the pumpkin flesh to become dehydrated.
- When not in use, consider storing the pumpkin in the refrigerator or wrapping it in a damp towel.
Method 2 of 3: Preserving Decorative Whole Pumpkins
Step 1. Choose a long-stemmed pumpkin
The best option is pumpkin that is fresh and freshly harvested with a stalk length of at least 5 centimeters.
Long stalks are important, because they help absorb and remove moisture. A stalkless or very short-stemmed pumpkin is more likely to retain moisture
Step 2. Clean the pumpkin with soap and water
Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of mild dishwashing detergent with 1 gallon (4 liters) of warm water in a large bucket. Wash the flask with this solution to remove any bacteria on its surface.
- Use a mild dishwashing liquid instead of a harsh cleaner. Hard cleaners can be too abrasive.
- When you're done, rinse the soap solution out of the flask quickly.
Step 3. Dry the pumpkin by wiping it
Use a clean rag or clean tissue paper to dry the pumpkin.
This preservation method aims to dry the pumpkin, not keep it wet. Thus, you will have to manually remove as much moisture as possible by wiping it
Step 4. Spray the pumpkin with rubbing alcohol
Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and spray the surface of the flask, to coat it thoroughly without getting it soaking wet.
- You can also spray the flask with household cleaning liquid.
- Both rubbing alcohol and household cleaners can be used to protect the surface of the flask from bacteria and new mold spores.
- Do not over-wet the pumpkin. Too much rubbing alcohol can cause the surface of the flask to become abrasive and may cause damage to the flask. Too much can also cause water levels to build up.
Step 5. Dry the pumpkin for a few weeks
Place the pumpkin on a few sheets of newspaper in a dark, warm and dry place. Let it dry there for a few weeks, especially until the pumpkin feels lighter.
- Make sure the place you choose has good ventilation. Otherwise, the air can become stagnant, resulting in the build-up of water content. The moisture content can cause the pumpkin to rot.
- Warmth speeds up the drying process and darkness preserves color. You can also place the pumpkin under an electric fan to speed up the drying process even further.
- Change the sheet every few days. Because the newspaper absorbs the moisture content of the pumpkin, it becomes wet. This soggy newspaper can cause your pumpkin to rot, if not replaced.
- In addition to feeling the pumpkin lighter, you can also hear the sound of pumpkin seeds crackling inside the pumpkin, when you lift the pumpkin.
Step 6. Coat the surface of the pumpkin
Once the pumpkin is completely dry, apply a layer of wax paste over the surface of the pumpkin to protect it from bacteria.
In addition to using wax paste, clear lacquers can also be used
Method 3 of 3: Preserving Cooked Pumpkin
Step 1. Use a fully ripe pumpkin
The pumpkin should be dark orange on the outside, and the flesh should have a soft texture.
- Avoid using pumpkin whose flesh is fibrous or dry.
- Pumpkin of high quality will last longer and better than pumpkin of low quality.
- This method preserves pumpkin by freezing it. Freezing is the easiest way to preserve pumpkin and is also believed to produce the highest quality product.
Step 2. Wash the pumpkin
Rinse the pumpkin under warm running water.
- If necessary, gently scrub the pumpkin with a vegetable brush to remove dirt and debris from its surface.
- Soap is not required, nor is it recommended.
Step 3. Cut the pumpkin
Use a large serrated knife to cut the pumpkin in half. Then, cut each piece into 5 to 7.6 centimeter pieces.
- A serrated knife is recommended. Regular blades without serrations are prone to slipping when used to cut through tough pumpkin skins and could accidentally injure you with the knife.
- You can peel the pumpkin pieces before boiling, but waiting to peel them after cooking is easier.
Step 4. Boil the pumpkin until soft
Place the pumpkin pieces in a medium saucepan and pour the water over them. Simmer the pumpkin for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the flesh is tender.
You can also roast the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin in half and each piece, face down, in the roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in the oven preheated to 190 degrees Celsius for 1.5 hours
Step 5. Transfer the softened meat or pulp
Allow the ripe pumpkin to cool enough for you to handle. Scrape the tender meat off the skin and transfer it to a medium-sized bowl.
- Use a metal spoon or similarly strong tool to scrape the meat.
- Once cooked, the meat should separate from the skin fairly easily.
Step 6. Mash the meat
Use a potato mash to grind the softened meat into a pulp or puree.
You can also complete this process using a hand-held immersion blender or food processor
Step 7. Cool the pumpkin
Place the bowl or pan containing the pumpkin in cold water until the soft flesh of the pumpkin cools to room temperature. Do not let the remaining water on the mashed pumpkin.
Stir the mashed pumpkin occasionally
Step 8. Pack the pumpkin in a strong container
Use containers made of non-reactive materials, such as plastic or glass. Make sure the container can be used to put in the freezer (freezer).
- Leave at least 2.5 centimeters of free space between the top of the container and the top of the pumpkin to allow room for the pumpkin to expand when frozen.
- Close the container tightly before freezing it.
Step 9. Freeze the pumpkin until ready to use
The pumpkin should last about 3 to 6 months without changing in taste or texture. Best of all, you can even store the pumpkin for more than a year.