What can I do with uncarved pumpkins? 5 expert-approved uses

From the kitchen to the garden – this is how to make the most of the staple that is synonymous with the season

Collection of gourds and pumpkins in a garden
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Uncarved pumpkins can survive for 12 weeks before they start to decay – but what can you do with them?

If you've already decided to keep some pumpkins you're displaying whole, saving others for your pumpkin carving ideas, you may be wondering what to do with the them before they start to rot. 

From now until Halloween, pumpkins are likely to dominate our mantelpieces and tablescapes as beautiful fall decor ideas, but they can also feature in recipes, and even coffees. 

So if you're asking, 'what can I do with uncarved pumpkins?', these are just a few ideas.

What can I do with uncarved pumpkins? 

From your chopping them into recipes to gorgeous living room fall decor to uses beyond your four walls, here's what experts do with their uncarved pumpkins.

1. Introduce pumpkin into your fall decor

A mantlepiece with green leaf garland, small white and orange pumpkins, two lit tapered candles, and a framed illustration of a regency lady

(Image credit: Chris Terry)

Arguably the most inevitable (and the most aesthetic) use for your uncarved pumpkins comes in the shape of fall decor. Whether you incorporate the fruit into your fall mantel decor ideas or you use it to dress your table for a seasonal dinner party, there is no doubt that the pumpkin has a place in the home. The founder and CEO of Harvest Joy Design, Alexandra Rae Molumby, agrees. 

'I personally like to scatter them around the inside of my home. It adds a nice touch to my Halloween decor,' she says. 

2. Elevate your curb appeal 

fall front door decor, pumpkin stairs

(Image credit: @thecharlestonlens)

Indoor pumpkins starting to soften?  You can lengthen their life by keeping them somewhere colder. When considering fall front door decor and outdoor Halloween decor ideas, pumpkins are likely to be at the top of your list, anyway. Alexandra recommends stacking them outside your front door (or up your stairs, as seen in the photo above) to create a light-hearted but good-looking first impression and ensure your entire home is aptly dressed for October and beyond. 

'Then, when you are ready to get rid of the pumpkins in your home, simply set them outside in your garden and watch them grow into plants next year,' the designer adds.

3. Bring pumpkin into the kitchen

Italian recipes

(Image credit: Jonathan Gregson)

From your living room and entryway to your fall kitchen ideas – it is no secret that pumpkin belongs in the kitchen. And while you may already have your favorite pumpkin and squash recipes in mind, Carl Anderson from Sweet New Earth reminds us of this fruit's durability. 

'If you don't use them for Halloween, then you can eat them, [by baking] up some pumpkin bread. In cool, indoor conditions, an uncarved pumpkin can last anywhere from a month to three months,' the expert adds.  

4. Feed pumpkins to local wildlife

Collection of gourds and pumpkins in a garden

(Image credit: GettyImages)

If you haven't already used vinegar to prevent pumpkins rotting, cleaned them with bleach or sprayed your pumpkins with any sealers, then you can make great use of pumpkins in your garden. Horticulturist and botanical designer Nathan Heinrich recommends feeding birds in winter with pumpkins, while squirrels and raccoons will enjoy them, too (ensuring they are chemical-free).

Similarly, Nathan suggests that your local petting zoo, dairy, or farm may let you drop off your post-season pumpkins as a treat for their animals. 'Or, if you or a neighbor has chickens, pumpkins make a wonderful treat for poultry,' the expert adds. 

5. Create compost with pumpkins

Beautiful photo used for tourism advertising, cover, design, printing, marketing, ideas, magazine and more, photo was taken in Dalat

(Image credit: Khanh Bui)

If you've read up on how to make compost, you may already know about its rich benefits for your garden (and surrounding wildlife). Therefore, you may be pleased to hear that you can add the fruit to your compost pile to enjoy its benefits long beyond the season. 

'Add your pumpkins to your compost pile for some wonderful organic material that worms and insects will be grateful for,' Nathan says. 'If you don't want pumpkin seeds from sprouting in the spring, remove the seeds before tossing them into the pile.'

How do you preserve uncarved pumpkins?

You may have heard that cleaning with vinegar has its benefits inside the home, but it also has its use in the garden. 

'Things like hairspray and vinegar can help the carved pumpkin last a bit longer,' says expert Carl Anderson from Sweet New Earth. But how do you choose between hairspray and vinegar?

'Hairspray is known for keeping away bugs, but you can't do much with the pumpkin after that,' Carl says. However, 'vinegar is going to keep away mold for both carved and uncarved pumpkins.'

How long do pumpkins last outside uncarved?

Uncarved pumpkins can last between two to three months. 'To get closer to that three-month range, you want to store the pumpkin in a cool, indoor location off the floor (it will rot if it touches the cement floor),' Carl explains. 'Clean off the pumpkin with a diluted chlorine solution, let it dry, and store off the ground in a cold place.' That should encourage the pumpkin to last longer. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.