do not bleach your pumpkins to preserve them

PSA: DO NOT bleach your pumpkins to make them last longer!! I’ve seen this tip being shared all over social media this season and it stinks! Please remember pumpkins are food, especially to lots of the wildlife! Deer, squirrels, raccoons, possums, mice, rats, chipmunks, birds, and even bugs. We deliberately stick them outside somewhere where wildlife can access them and we DO NOT want our wildlife eating bleached pumpkins!!!

Instead, try using vinegar. 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water will work just as well. Or. Most natural oils – including avocado, sesame, olive, tea tree, almond, and grapefruit seed extract – lock in moisture so your pumpkin doesn’t dry out. For easy application, put on disposable gloves and apply oil liberally to the outside and cut-outs. Reapply over time as necessary. This is a great method even the kids can try, and your pumpkin will be safe for wildlife to eat later on!

When it’s time to get your Pumpkin glowing, opt for battery-operated tea lights or glow sticks as opposed to real candles. The extra heat from a candle can expedite rot and mold growth. Candles can dry out the pumpkin fast!

Spread a layer of dog hair on the ground, then set the pumpkins on the hair. Squirrels will avoid the area if they smell a dog nearby. Set out a plate of food to distract the squirrels from the pumpkins. Squirrels enjoy eating the dried corn found in many birdseed blends. An uncooked corn cob will also work.

How To Recycle & Reuse Your Pumpkins

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Sure, toasted pumpkin seeds are great, but why not try something different? Rinse the pumpkin seeds to remove all the pumpkin strings and insides and pat the seeds dry. Then combine all the following ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until it reaches the desired consistency. Enjoy the pesto on pasta, crackers, salad, or as a spread on a veggie sandwich.

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs miso
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbs lime juice
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro

IMPORTANT: Check with your state wildlife agency to confirm recycling your pumpkin outside is permitted: in states experiencing outbreaks of Chronic Wasting Disease, attracting deer to a pile of pumpkins could lead to disease spread. Also, please keep in mind this applies to non-painted pumpkins, as the toxins in paint can be harmful to wildlife. And keep pumpkins away from the house, ideally near trees.