Ok, so you want to eat the candy. But what about your Hallowe’en pumpkin?
Your jack-o-lantern looks great on the porch or at the front door, but sometimes it looks SO good, that it’s got you wondering if it’s safe to eat it. Yes, we know you do think about it.
Is it? Here on some tips to follow to make sure that if you eat your jack-o-lantern, it’s only the monstrous costumes that turn your stomach this week:
1) Don’t Carve: Use Non-Toxic Paint Instead
If you’re really set on cooking with your jack-o-lantern after you’ve used it to decorate the house, you might want to avoid carving it up altogether, and reach for some non-toxic paints that you can wash off before baking. This way you conserve the meat of the pumpkin and keep it from being exposed to the air and spoiling. You can even make your own.
2) Look for Critters
If you carve your pumpkin and place it outside, always check for creepy crawlies before slicing it up to serve in a pie. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not something everyone thinks of. I swear I found spider legs in my sister’s pumpkin pie, last year. No ants, worms, potato bugs, beetles or earwigs nestling in? You’re good to go.
3) Keep it Cold!
The biggest part of keeping your carved pumpkin safe to eat is keeping it cold. If you live in a warm climate, it might be best to skip cooking jack-o-lantern altogether after the big night, as it will have ample time to be sitting in a nice warm spot while trick-or-treaters visit, giving time for bacteria to spread.
If you live where it’s already cold out, carve your pumpkin and keep it in the fridge until the sunsets and the temperature drops even further outside. Use an electric candle inside the pumpkin and keep a cooking thermometer nearby to monitor the inside temperature. The pumpkin should be kept below 4o degrees Fahrenheit for safe use. Place it back in the fridge before going to bed at night.
4) Check for Mold
If you are painting or carving, either way, check for mold before trying to consume! There is no way to tell when the gourd was picked, unless you picked it yourself, and so freshness may be long gone. It’s always good to do a check.
5) Stick to the 24-Hour Rule
Always cook your jack-o-lantern into food within 24 hours of carving. This ensures that the inside hasn’t been hanging out in the open air too long, with a super-elongated time frame for bacteria to accumulate.
6) Get a Baking Pumpkin
While these other tips can help to keep your cooking safe, if you really wish to go down the guaranteed path, it’s best to buy two pumpkins this time of year.
Some pumpkins are specifically baking pumpkins and they will likely make your pies, soups and breads tastier than your regular old carving pumpkin. Many grocery stores carry both types, and this ensures that everyone stays away from ghastly unwanted food ghouls!
Eat safe, and Happy Hallowe’en!