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I'm already seeing pumpkins in at the store I usually shop. There's still about 8 full weeks time until October 31st. The stems on these look really good. They are only $5-a-pumpkin!
My question is: If I bought some now and kept them inside (highs in the low 80's inside for part of the day) out of the Florida heat, would they still be suitable for carving into Jack-o-Lanterns about a week out from October 31st?
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We grow a lot of pumpkins in the garden and a few are ripe.
As long as you keep them in cool conditions they should store nicely but remember - "humidity" is the enemy. A pumpkin will rot if it's to humid. Critters would also be very keen to munch on your pumpkins. So you should protect them.
 

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We grow a lot of pumpkins in the garden and a few are ripe.
As long as you keep them in cool conditions they should store nicely but remember - "humidity" is the enemy. A pumpkin will rot if it's to humid. Critters would also be very keen to munch on your pumpkins. So you should protect them.

Thanks for the insights! It is ghastly humid here along the Florida Panhandle, which probably explains why all our pumpkins come from elsewhere. That just seems like such a bargain (at $5-a-pop), I might have to buy them now and hoard them inside until we get closer to the big night.
 

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Pick pumpkins with no cracks, bruises, weeping or soft spots. Wash with cool mildly soapy water laced with bleach, and dry completely in front of a fan. Store them without touching each other, leave plenty of airspace in between. And, on a screen or wire shelf so air can flow from underneath is a bonus. Low humidity, cool stable temperatures but NEVER at or below freezing. And, in the dark if possible. Keep the area well-ventilated if you can. Check on them weekly for blotches, fuzzy patches, etc. Remove any from the group that show signs of spoilage.

I've stored pumpkins harvested in late September after frost that kept until well past January and they were 100% fine. I think the longest one that ever kept was still edible into late February/ mid March with no signs of spoilage inside or out. I've had some last until LATE SPRING, but to err on the side of caution gave them to the squirrels.

If you're in FL, maybe store them somewhere inside the air conditioned part of the house with some of those closet dehumidifier gel cannisters in between?
 

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If you want to keep them for a long time,keep them in a deep freezer. the downstairs freezer. Thats what the producers did for the move Jack-O. It was filmed in hot florida they also coated them with shellac to preserve them more
 

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If you want to keep them for a long time,keep them in a deep freezer. the downstairs freezer. Thats what the producers did for the move Jack-O. It was filmed in hot florida they also coated them with shellac to preserve them more
Are you sure? The Night Gardener just said above to never freeze a pumpkin. Did you mean they carved them up for the movie and THEN kept them frozen until ready for their movie scene shoot? I am confused, but that is my natural state, so...
 

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If you carve then freeze they'll just end up mush when they defrost, especially in the heat.
 

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I'm already seeing pumpkins in at the store I usually shop. There's still about 8 full weeks time until October 31st. The stems on these look really good. They are only $5-a-pumpkin!
My question is: If I bought some now and kept them inside (highs in the low 80's inside for part of the day) out of the Florida heat, would they still be suitable for carving into Jack-o-Lanterns about a week out from October 31st?
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I purchased my pumpkins in mid September last year and had them sitting on the fire place hearth till Halloween. I usually keep the indoor temperature around 74-75 but even that didn't help. A week before Halloween when I gathered them up for the display "splaaaaat" the bottoms fell out of several of them. I recommend waiting until the beginning or mid October and keep them indoors and out of the sun. Carved pumpkins in warm humid climates are another problem. I can usually only get 1-2 days out of them even if I treat them with a preservative. I have been trying unsuccessfully for several years to grow my own pumpkins so I can harvest them as I need, that may be an option for next year.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I kind of wanted to take advantage of the cheap ($5) prices, but I'd best wait until a few days out. I have a feeling they'll be twice the price, but at least they'll keep for my needs.
 

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Oh yeah. I've seen them for $10-$15 around Halloweentime. Did I mention I hate the State I live in?
 

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Hmm, this got me thinking too... I started seeing pumpkins in stores this week and wondered if I should buy one now. I just wanted to make sure and have my pick of good ones. Seems like if I wait til October, the good looking ones are gone. But, I worry too about them "going bad". I wash mine with bleach and soap and sometimes that helps them last, sometimes not. I live in North Texas, so it can get pretty humid and be warm well into October.
 

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I just saw some yesterday for the first time. Nothing more gross than to pick one up & your hand sinks in (happened to me once in a patch). I'm very careful before I pick any up anymore since my gag reflex isn't good.

I also heard the key is to keep cool & to wash with a bleach solution to kill any spores, viruses, etc. that would cause them to rot. Once carved, I heard washing inside with lemon juice helps keeping them from rotting too quick. Not sure if it works...never tried it.
 

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I just refused to let my 6 year old buy pumpkins because in my experience they don't last that long. We buy ours about 2 weeks out from Halloween, then we carve them the week of Halloween, and then we usually wait too long to get rid of them and have to clean a goopy moldy pumpkin mess off of the sidewalk.
 

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Hmm... well seeing how there is some lively discussion to still be had and because I am a nerd: To clarify, you can "chill" a pumpkin for long term storage, but it can't be frozen. Once large ice crystals form in the cell walls, it turns to absolute mush when thawed. That's why flash-freezing methods were developed to try and reduce this ice crystal formation in our food to be as tiny as possible.

Now, having a very hard rind, it offers the pumpkin some protection against light ground frosts, but not hard freezes.

Temperatures between 40'ish to 55-60*F degrees are what most old-timey root cellars were capable of sustaining throughout the entire year. Did some food go bad under those conditions? Yes, absolutely. But, most actual root vegetables actually go dormant under those conditions, so unless they were deliberately dried as well were still technically alive, so they had some immunological defenses against unwanted microbial activity. Which is why ideal conditions for preservation included knocking off excessive dirt, sometimes washing, restricting ambient moisture and photostimulus.

Fruiting bodies, of which hard winter squashes and pumpkins are, really aren't a "living" thing once removed from the plant. They are modes of seed dispersal designed to rot, giving critical moisture retention and nutrients to later germinating seeds. The seeds are dormant inside the fruiting body but are "alive" awaiting proper germinating factors in the environment. Which is why the bizarre phenomenon of seeds germinating inside ripe fruit still on the plant happens quite frequently after swings in temperature and other environmental stimulus happens.

Lower temperatures and drier conditions that slow the activity of all microbes and cellular activity is what makes older methods of food storage possible. Because air, moisture and invading microbes have a difficult time penetrating the protective rind, hard squashes naturally take longer to decompose which made them excellent candidates for storing over the sparser winter months.

Dry storage of whole produce is not as reliable as air-drying, fermenting, freeze-drying, smoking or salt-packing (or, in some cases, storing in well rendered fat) but it's obviously not impossible.

However, by modern understandings, root cellar conditions fall within a very dangerous temperature range (over 38*F) that allows for harmful microbial activity to accelerate in our contemporary moist-by-comparison perishables. That's why food handling practices recommend storing food just over freezing, ideally around 34 to 36*F, with very low humidity. Anything over 40*F is pretty risky, as microbes can become more active, reproduce, and cause terrible diseases and spoilage.

( Side story: I once got into a very technical, heated debate with management in an apartment complex I used to live in, because the furnished fridge in my unit could not pull the temperature down below 40*F and ran closer to 45*F, which was dangerous and my food kept spoiling. Luckily I didn't get sick but I was able to get them to furnish a properly working refrigerator after printing off some state safety laws for food handling and documenting a few different thermometers photographically. It was replaced with an old clunker energy in-efficient model, but I'd rather pay a slightly higher utility bill than waste a small fortune in groceries, or worse, have to be sick and risk admittance to an ER. I've had true food poisoning twice as an adult from improperly handled dairy half and half at a hotel coffee station, and got salmonella once from food in a restrurant. Never again!)

Oddly enough, most home refrigerators simply don't offer the ideal conditions to replicate a root cellar, predominantly because of lack of air circulation and fluctuating humidity. Even though fridges can maintain a very effective temperature to ensure food safety, every time you open the door, condensates form on the surfaces of the items stored; then take a long time to be removed from the closed system. That's just enough moisture to cause problems, so manufacturers try to compensate by engineering things like deli and crisper drawers to try and accomodate a wide variety of food stuffs that have different long and short term storage needs. I would argue that, with the exception of condiments, most refrigerators are designed for keeping items 'fresh' for short-term storage and consumption, maybe up to a month. I think some cheeses might fare well, but quality starts declining relatively quickly with the majority of fresh products.

Real foods also respirate and give off moisture, so a refrigerator has a lot of factors to manage. It's sort of a miracle of engineering that it can work at all.

If you really wanted to try storing pumpkins and could dedicate a fridge soley to the cause, you could set it at around 40 to 50*F and install a small fan and dessicant jars inside? You might get several months or more of storage without having to micromanage it.

I also remember a youtuber ages ago attesting to rubbing mineral oil into the pumpkin for long-term storage before Halloween, but while I agree it ought to work in principle because the non-rancid oil seals the pumpkin keeping moisture out, it also won't let moisture escape from inside the pumpkin as it ages... So, if you're up to a scientific experiment it might be worth really looking into. They still need a cool, dry, dark space for best chances of viability which is difficult to manage in FL... but regardless, I wish you luck! Hope this was helpful.
 

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Are you sure? The Night Gardener just said above to never freeze a pumpkin. Did you mean they carved them up for the movie and THEN kept them frozen until ready for their movie scene shoot? I am confused, but that is my natural state, so...
they froze the pumpkins before carving, it kept them from going mushy until they were ready for filming then carve
 
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