The trick to keeping pumpkins fresh

Whether pumpkin is one of your go-to vegetables or simply an ingredient in your favorite seasonal offerings like Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte or the unconventional pumpkin spice Spam, there's no doubt you'll start seeing this big round squash showing up at farmers' markets and in grocery stores when fall produce starts to roll in. But before you go on an orange gourd shopping frenzy, here's what you need to know about how to keep pumpkins fresh. 

One of the tricks to keeping your whole pumpkin fresh is giving it a bath. Wash or wipe the surface of the pumpkin with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per 1 gallon of water, then dry it thoroughly — this removes bacteria, fungus, and other grime that can make your pumpkin go bad (via University of Nebraska-Lincoln).

Unlike some other veggies, pumpkin shouldn't always be stored in the fridge. The best temperature to store a whole fresh pumpkin is between 50 and 55 degrees, and since your fridge is likely colder than that, it can actually make the pumpkin flesh deteriorate more quickly (via NPR). Instead, store your pumpkin somewhere cool and dark like a pantry, cupboard, root cellar, or basement (as long as it doesn't get below freezing). Stored this way, a whole fresh pumpkin can last for up to three months. Be sure to also check periodically underneath the pumpkin for accumulated moisture, as this can lead to rot.

Freshly cut pumpkin can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to eight months (via Kitchen Sanity), but note that frozen fresh pumpkin will soften as it thaws, making it a better choice for things like soup than for roasting. 

Cooked pumpkin and pumpkin from a can that's been opened can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for three to five months, giving you plenty of time to decide which tasty fall treat (perhaps a pie?) you want to use it in.