Carved pumpkins can start to dry out in as little as four days – the pumpkin itself is made up largely of water, so once it is exposed to air it dries up pretty quickly. To make the pumpkin last longer, the exposed flesh can be covered with a thin layer of petroleum jelly (that is, the carved part as well as the inside of the pumpkin). If it shrinks, putting it in cold water over night may help it regain its full size. Washing the inside of the pumpkin with a “mild bleach solution” will keep it from decaying so quickly.
Uncarved pumpkins can last much longer; if they are stored in a cool, dry place outside of direct sunlight, they can last for months.
If you are talking about a carved Halloween pumpkin, it may depend on what you use to preserve it. If you are okay with it lasting about a week or less, you can use Vaseline as a preservative. However, if you want it to last longer than that, you can use bleach treatment, acrylic spray, hair spray, or pumpkin fresh spray.
Be careful about keeping a pumpkin for too long. I bought a giant pumpkin this year (81 pounds). We had it in the house for a while, then moved it onto the back porch, in a cool environment. It seemed to be doing okay, but it seems within a day, the worst smell possible was emanating from the porch – it was the rotting pumpkin! It was one of the absolute raunchiest smells I’ve ever experienced, so I just wanted to give that warning!
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