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Halloween 2021 pumpkins: how long carved pumpkins last, when to carve - and what to do with it afterwards

Get it wrong and your scary Halloween design could shrivel up and go mouldy, which wouldn’t be a pretty sight for trick-or-treaters

With Halloween just days away, you might well be thinking about where to get your pumpkin from and perhaps even what design you’re going to carve into it.

There are many places where you can get hold of the distinctive orange fruit.

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If you live in the countryside, you might be able to make it along to a pumpkin patch or farm where you can pick your own.

Or, if that’s not an option, you can pick one up from any one of the UK’s supermarkets, as well as greengrocers and market stalls.

But while getting hold of a pumpkin is fairly straightforward, when is the best time to carve it - and what can you do with your pumpkin after Halloween?

Here’s what you need to know.

Once opened up, pumpkins only tend to last for a matter of days (image: Shutterstock)

When should I carve my Halloween pumpkin?

The advice on when to begin carving your Halloween pumpkin varies but the general wisdom is to avoid going too early.

Left intact, the fruit will last for eight to 12 weeks as it is protected by its thick, orange skin.

But once opened up, pumpkins only tend to last for a matter of days before sagging and starting to go mouldy - not a pretty sight for trick-or-treaters on 31 October.

So, the later you can leave carving your pumpkin the better.

Fortunately, Halloween 2021 is taking place on a Sunday, which means you could leave carving right up until the last minute.

If, however, you want to get your house Halloween-ready in advance, Tesco recommends carving your design between two to five days before 31 October.

Carving a pumpkin may seem like a chore, but with the quick and easy steps you’ll have a ghoulish-looking pumpkin in no time (Photo: Shutterstock)

Can I prolong the life of my carved pumpkin?

Tesco suggests customers should remove “as much of the inner soft tissue as possible” from the pumpkin and keep it as dry as possible.

These two actions would help it last longer, Tesco said.

If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, online retailer Ocado’s top tip is to soak your pumpkin face down in cold water for up to eight hours.

The National Trust, meanwhile, said carved pumpkins last longer if the stem is kept as a lid for the fruit.

However, this lid should not be left on top of the pumpkin if you put a candle inside.

This is because the stem could shrivel and fall inside your pumpkin, creating a fire hazard.

What can I do with my Halloween pumpkin after 31 October?

According to the Woodland Trust, 18,000 tonnes of pumpkin gets thrown away in the UK after Halloween every year.

But this food waste can be avoided - even if your pumpkin has become inedible.

For those who decide to do something with their pumpkin whilst it’s still fresh, there are numerous ways of cooking them.

The fruit can be used to make soups or stews. Meanwhile, once baked in the oven, its seeds can taste delicious as a savoury topping for salads or as a snack.

Even the pulp can be eaten, with Ocado saying it can be used in a broth, for a chutney or as a base for mulled wine.

If the fruit has gone off, it can be used to support wildlife (provided you have not coated it in any man-made substances which could be toxic to animals, e.g. petroleum jelly).

The National Trust says the seeds can be given to birds and squirrels.

The remaining husk of the fruit can also be turned into a bird feeder, according to the Woodland Trust.

Another idea is to chop the pumpkin into small pieces and compost it.

If you don’t have a compost heap, the Woodland Trust recommends burying chunks of pumpkin in your garden at a depth of 25cm to support insects and worms.

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