To keep pumpkins from rotting, store them at a very low temperature. Cold conditions inhibit the growth of bacteria, the driving forces behind rotting and decomposition. The colder the environment, the longer the pumpkins remain edible.
Whole pumpkins are remarkably hardy and stay fresh for weeks without refrigeration, especially in chilly climates. When temperatures are low, pumpkins do well in unheated areas such as porches, root cellars and garden sheds. In hotter climates, pumpkins benefit from refrigeration and freezing. Small whole pumpkins fit neatly in the refrigerator crisper bin, but larger specimens do not fit in most refrigerators and freezers. To preserve a large pumpkin, remove the top and scoop out its seeds and pulp. Slice the remaining portions and place them in heavy freezer bags. Frozen pumpkin is a terrific addition to soups, stews and many baked goods, including pumpkin pie.
It is extremely important that all pumpkins stored outdoors stay whole. Thick pumpkin rind is an excellent insulator that protects the flesh and seeds from heat and pests. Once the rind is pierced, however, the squash becomes much more vulnerable. Pierced pumpkins should be immediately chopped up and refrigerated or frozen. Frozen pumpkin chunks remain edible for more than one year.