When life gives you pumpkins...then you find a way to store and preserve them! Let's face it, we can't eat pumpkins all the time. But they're a hearty and versatile vegetable and grow easily. You'll never be hungry if you have a pumpkin patch in your garden. So here are some easy tips to storing excess pumpkins (and seeds!)

This time of year is pumpkin picking season (well in the southern hemisphere). Home gardeners everywhere are bringing in their crop, and if you take a drive to the edge of town, I bet you will find a roadside store selling them too.

However you get your hands on some pumpkins, here is how to make them last for the whole season.


Wait until the vines are dying. We don’t really get frost around here, but we certainly get some very cold mornings. When the vines are dead, it is also easier to see the pumpkins. I have read that a really big frost will damage the pumpkins, but usually the first frost of the season is fairly light. By waiting until the frost, you ensure maximum growing time.

When you do pick the pumpkins, use some secateurs to cut the stem at least 10 cm off the pumpkin, and leave the stem attached. Let the stem dry on the pumpkin and just leave it there until you are ready to use it. This helps to prevent the pumpkin rotting.

Of course if you are buying pumpkins, buy them with the stem attached if you can.

Avoid carrying the pumpkin by the stem so that it doesn’t snap off. In my case, Moose the Clydesdale stomps all over the overflow vines so we need to keep the ones still alive and attached to pumpkins out of his way!


Pumpkins store best off the ground, in a cool, dark, airy place. We use our shed. They will rot on the bottom if they sit on a solid surface such as metal. You can use some old wooden lattice to sit them on to allow air to flow underneath. I’ve also read that spreading a thick layer of straw or some cardboard underneath them can help (this works especially well when growing too, as the ground can get soggy and start to damage the pumpkin).

Store them in a single layer, rather than piling them up, as this will also encourage air flow. Move them around.

If they are really dirty, it is a good idea to give them a wipe down, but you want to keep them dry. A little dirt will brush off easily after a few days. You will find that pumpkins with a thicker skin will last longer.

Alternately, if you have an abundance of very ripe pumpkins, I would suggest steaming them or pressure cooking them so they’re soft, slightly mashing them when they cool (though you’ll be hard pressed to actually have to do this as they often just fall apart), and bag them in freezer proof bags or containers as is – no other seasonings added. You can portion them smaller if you think you might use them more frequently. For example, if you want to use some in cake or muffins, maybe have smaller portion sizes for those recipes so you avoid taking out a huge bag that you later don’t or can’t use. Alternately I always store mine with the intent of soup first, and anything left over will go into a moist cake batter, muffins, pumpkins, waffles and even soap!


Wait! Don’t throw out those remnants yet! First, I hope you’re giving your scraps either to your chooks or to your worm farm or other compost system. And second…you better not have thrown those seeds out!

Saving seeds is a fantastic way to reproduce your favourite vegetable and get seeds you know have been treated well. Especially if you have put in the time and effort to naturally farm with no pesticides, then you want to save your seeds.

There are a number of things to do with seeds. Save them for next years harvest, get involved in your local community garden or seed exchange and swap your seeds for some other seeds, or dry them to eat them (but beware, salty pumpkin seeds are addictive!)

For me, the best way to save pumpkin seeds is to wash the membrane off the seed well, and then let it dry on a slightly damp paper towel. You don’t want it to dry out and stick to the paper towel because it will be awful to remove. That said, spreading them out on a single layer on a paper towel is great for the first bit of drying that occurs. When its no longer wet to touch, I pop the seeds into a bowl and put it on the window sill. Every few hours I go and swish them around as they’re drying so they don’t stick to each other. When fully dry, which I often leave for a couple days, I then pop them in a paper bag and write the description down and the date I started storing it.

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Got any pumpkins? How do you keep yours?