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7 Ways to Tell If a Pumpkin Is Bad

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Pumpkins are beautiful and delicious. They are super fruits that we never get tired of consuming.

But, everything eventually has an end. There will come a time when your pumpkin goes bad. How many days can pumpkins last before they go bad?

How can you tell that a pumpkin is bad? Here are seven ways to identify bad pumpkins.

1. The Pumpkin Has Mold

spoiled moldy pumpkin on white background

The worst form of pumpkins is when they have mold. The presence of mold (fungi) indicates that your pumpkin is decomposing and unsafe for consumption. The moldy pumpkin will spoil completely in less than 2 days.

Note that the presence of mold in one part of a pumpkin renders the entire pumpkin bad and unsafe for eating as the tiny strands of mold are all over the fruit, even if you can’t see them.

However, if all of the pumpkin is still firm and has not become mushy, you can cut off the moldy part (with a generous buffer) and cook the rest.

2. Presence of Insects Inside the Pumpkin Flesh

When you do not keep your pumpkins away from insects, they can devour the fruits from within. Insects such as houseflies and some beetles, such as mealworms, will lay their eggs inside the pumpkin (through holes). Their offspring, which are usually maggots, will consume the flesh of the pumpkins.

You should not eat pumpkins with maggots inside as these maggots can be vectors for various diseases.

3. Bad or Unpleasant Odor

A very reliable way to tell that a pumpkin is bad is when it does not smell as it should. When pumpkins smell horrible, it indicates the presence of harmful microbes such as some bacteria and fungi species. You should dispose of pumpkins with unpleasant odors because they are totally unsafe for consumption.

4. Becoming Soft from the Inside

sliced spoiled pumpkin with mold inside on white marble background

Pumpkins should be hard to the touch and should be firm when you press them with your hands. If a pumpkin feels soft from the inside, it could mean that the pumpkin is rotting from the inside.

If just one section of the pumpkin feels soft, it could have been bruised or not handled with care. You can slice off the soft part and eat the firm (fresh) part.

5. Draining Liquid

Another reliable way to tell that a pumpkin is rotting is if a part of it is discharging liquid. The softer parts of the fruit will start dripping nutrient-rich water when they are getting really bad.

Any pumpkin dripping liquid is inedible as it is usually caused by the activities of decomposing fungi and bacteria.

6. Change in Color

Fresh pumpkin has a bright matte color. Pumpkins can be orange or green when ripe (according to the variety). If you notice that the color of your pumpkin is becoming brown, black, or green (if it is an orange variety), you should dispose of the pumpkin as it is becoming bad.

7. Examine the Pumpkin Carefully

There are more ways to tell if a pumpkin is bad. Well, it depends on how you processed the pumpkin as different forms of pumpkin have different expiration dates. Here are some forms of pumpkins and how to tell that they are bad:

  • Raw (Fresh) Pumpkin: When pumpkins are fresh and kept properly, they will not go bad quickly. There are many ways to tell if a fresh pumpkin is going bad and some ways are listed above. For example, you can find insects, mold, etc. on the pumpkin. You should also notice liquid dripping from the fruit.
  • Cut or Carved Pumpkin: Whenever you open any part of pumpkins, you are exposing the nutrient-rich flesh to microbes. Carved pumpkins go bad quickly. You can tell that they are getting bad when you notice a color change, the presence of insects, mold, etc.
  • Cooked Pumpkin: You should see mold on cooked pumpkins such as pumpkin pies and others when they are bad.
  • Frozen Pumpkin: It is not so recommended to store pumpkins in freezers. Even though the pumpkin will remain safe to eat for a very long time, it would soften as it thaws and spoils quickly if not consumed immediately after it thaws.
  • Pumpkin Vine: While most people do not pay attention to pumpkin vines, you can know the health of your pumpkin by looking at the vine. If the leaves look sick (for example they are full of spots), the fruits can spoil quickly. The fruits of healthy pumpkin vines stay fresh longer.

Now you know ways to identify bad pumpkins. Do you think that your pumpkins are getting bad too quickly? How long do pumpkins last? Continue reading.

How Long Do Pumpkins Last?

The table below shows how long different forms of pumpkins can last for when you keep them in the refrigerator or on the counter:

Form of PumpkinCounterRefrigerator
Fresh pumpkin1-2 monthsOver 3 months
Canned pumpkin (unopened)More than 1 yearMore than 1 year
Fresh cut pumpkin2-3 daysOver 3 months
Cooked pumpkin1-3 days7 days
Pumpkin pie2-3 days3-4 days

As you can see, refrigerating pumpkins prevents them from spoiling quickly. You can freeze pumpkins to keep them for a longer time, but they soften as they thaw and go bad (if you do not use them immediately).

Why Do Pumpkins Go Bad?

One great way to prevent your pumpkins from spoiling quickly is to know why they go bad. Here are some factors that influence the shelf life of pumpkins:

1. Pests

If you do not properly store your pumpkins and they are found by pests such as insects and rats, they can spoil quickly as most pests are loaded with harmful microbes. When pests eat some parts of your pumpkins, they expose other parts of the pumpkin to these microbes.

2. Not Storing Your Pumpkins Properly

If you do not keep the pumpkins well, they will rot quickly. As mentioned earlier, some people mistakenly freeze their pumpkins instead of refrigerating them. Some also expose their pumpkins to the cold of winter. These methods of storing pumpkins can spoil them quickly. Later in this article, we will discuss how to store pumpkins properly.

3. Plant Disease

Diseases easily spread across plants. Diseases can also spread from pumpkin vines to fruits. Some diseased plants produce fruits that go bad before they become ripe while others produce fruits that spoil quickly after they become ripe.

4. Not Handing with Care

The way you handle pumpkins during harvesting, transporting, and carving matters a lot. If you mistakenly poke holes into the pumpkins or hit them hard enough to bruise them, they will spoil easily.

5. Decomposition

Everything has an end. For organic products such as pumpkins, they will surely go bad. Decomposition is a natural process that releases the nutrients in pumpkins back into the soil. Even if you properly store your pumpkins, they will decompose someday.

Even though your pumpkins can go bad naturally, you can still prevent them from spoiling quickly by properly storing them. Continue reading to know how to properly store pumpkins.

stack of pumpkin on pumpkin dark room storage

How to Properly Store Pumpkins (So That They Do Not Quickly Go Bad)

You should keep the pumpkins in a darker room (where there is little light). The temperature should be the normal room temperature. You can also keep the pumpkin in a refrigerator for more than 3 months.

For pumpkin pies and other cooked pumpkin products, you should not store them for long (try to eat them quickly).

For carved pumpkins, try to give them a bleach bath before and after carving as bleaching pumpkins can extend the number of days you can use them before they rot away. No matter where you keep the pumpkin, it should be free from pests.

Related Questions and Answers

Do you have any questions? Here are the answers:

1. What Can You Do with Bad Pumpkins?

Do not eat bad pumpkins. You can throw the rotting pumpkin into your compost bin (if you have it) or simply dispose of it. In winter, you can simply bury the rotting pumpkins in the soil as it will give nutrients to your spring crops.

2. How Do You Identify Fresh Pumpkins?

Here are some ways to identify fresh pumpkins:

  • Use Your Senses: Use your eyes and nose to examine the pumpkin. The pumpkin should look bright and should not have any unpleasant smell. Check for holes in the skin.
  • Gently Knock the Pumpkin: If you gently knock the pumpkin, it should sound hollow if it is fresh and still good.
  • Lift the Pumpkin: Pumpkins should be heavier than they look. If the pumpkin feels light, there could be insects feasting on the flesh from the inside if it is getting bad.
  • Test the Stem of Handle: Grab the handle of the pumpkin and check if it is firm or loose. Pumpkin handles should be firm.
  • Test the Bottom: Pumpkins usually start decomposing from the base (or wherever they have contact with the ground). Check the bottom first. The pumpkin flesh should not be soft, but rather firm.

Make sure that you only consume fresh and good pumpkins.

3. Can Farm Animals Eat Bad Pumpkins?

Do not feed your farm animals or pets with rotting products. Bad pumpkins can make your farm animals sick and could give them bloated stomachs. You should dispose of bad pumpkins or throw them into the compost bin.

Have you found the answer to your question?

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways to tell if a pumpkin is bad. For example, bad pumpkins can drip liquid, feel soft, have insects or mold growing on them, or even have an unpleasant smell. You should not eat bad pumpkins as they can make you sick. Also, do not feed your pets or farm animals with bad pumpkins.

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