How Long Do Pumpkins Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 To 3 Months

Native to North America, pumpkins are one of the oldest cultivated plants and a great vegetable. From eating as food to using them for decorative purposes, pumpkins have a wide use all over the world.

Pumpkin pie is a very famous dish made out of pumpkins which are even used as a thanksgiving meal in Canada and many other countries. Moreover, talking about the recreational purposes of pumpkins, they are widely used as Jack-o-lanterns during the Halloween season. Pumpkin puree and pumpkin squash are other common meals made out of this vegetable.

With its great health benefits, extraordinary taste, and multiple uses, all these reasons make pumpkins one of the most cultivated plants in the world.

How Long Do Pumpkins Last? 

Pumpkins have two main purposes, the first purpose is for eating. When pumpkins are used for eating, they are then called for non-carving purposes. And the second purpose is for decoration. The most popular and common way of using pumpkins for decoration is for creating Jack-o-lanterns during Halloween. When pumpkins are used for this purpose, they are then called carving pumpkins.

Depending upon the purpose and use of pumpkins, their shelf life varies.

If it is a non-carving pumpkin, then its average shelf life is 2 to 3 months. It is so because non-carving pumpkins are kept as it is without hindering its outer layers. When the outer layer is intact, it can last for a longer duration. Moreover, if kept in cool and dry conditions, they can last even longer than 2 months.

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However, if the pumpkin is a carving pumpkin, that means, it is used for decorative purposes, then its shelf life is 5 to 7 days. The reason behind that is because, to use pumpkins for decorative purposes, mainly for making Jack-o-lanterns, they are carved. As a result, their outer layers are destroyed and the inner layer of the pumpkin is exposed to the atmosphere. 

Since the inner layer of a pumpkin is extremely sensitive, it gets easily destroyed by bacterias and insects present in the atmosphere. Thus, reducing the shelf life of pumpkins to a huge level.

Purpose Of PumpkinShelf Life
Non-carving pumpkin2 to 3 months
Carving pumpkin5 to 7 days

Why Does Pumpkin Last That Long?

When kept under nominal conditions, a pumpkin can last from 2 to 3 months easily. The condition required to keep a pumpkin last for 2 to 3 months is to store it in a cool and dry place. The most favorable place which can provide a pumpkin in such conditions is a refrigerator.

Excess moisture or water can lead to the rotting of the pumpkin. The reason for that is because water can deteriorate the external layers of the pumpkin making the pumpkin’s outer layer extremely weak. As a result, any of the insects or bacteria can attack spots where the outer layer is quite weak. As a result, they eat that particular spot on the layer and they can then further invade the inside of the pumpkin making it unfit for consumption.

Moreover, high temperature also destroys the pumpkin and consequently makes it unfit for use. Be it a carving pumpkin or a non-carving pumpkin, high temperature affects pumpkins badly. If a pumpkin is kept at room temperature, it won’t last longer than a month. 

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Whereas, when kept at a cool temperature, pumpkin can last as long as three months. The ideal temperature to keep pumpkins healthy and last longer is 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you see any blemishes on the outer layers of a pumpkin, that most probably means that the outer layer of the pumpkin, particularly on that spot, has been rotten or destroyed due to some reason.

Conclusion

Pumpkins already have a good enough shelf life if their purpose is for consumption. However, when it comes to carving pumpkins or generally speaking for decorative purposes, the shelf life is small.

Thus, it is important to do your best to keep them healthy for a longer time. To increase the shelf life, a couple of ways can be followed. For example, keeping a non-carving pumpkin in the refrigerator might sound like a normal thing, but it increases the shelf life to a great level. 

Moreover, when talking about carving pumpkins, it is recommended to use them for decorative purposes during the winter season, when the temperature is quite low.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157502910525
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996911001736
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