Whether it’s your first time or you’re a pumpkin carving pro, you need to know how to clean out a pumpkin fast. Since “fast” is subjective, it definitely doesn’t mean five minutes, but it’s typically not longer than 15 minutes. You could enlist help, but the process is easy enough to tackle yourself.
For some of us, this time of year brings back childhood memories of watching an adult take forever to clean out a pumpkin and dump its guts on the dining room table. No need to dread it now because I’ve got some tips to make the process easier.
When you’re looking for a long-lasting pumpkin, look for one with the stem solidly attached. It shouldn’t have any blemishes or dark spots, as that can be a sign of frost damage (which will make it more susceptible to rot). And, you shouldn’t carve them more than a week before Halloween, since they only last about seven days once carved.
How to Clean Out a Pumpkin Quickly
1. Get your cleaning/cutting space ready.
You’ll get your hands messy, and your space will have goo all over. Choose a big garbage bag, kraft paper, or newspaper to lay your pumpkin on. If your sink is big enough, set up shop there with some paper towels nearby. It’s always a good idea to wash off any dirt from your pumpkin, even if you’re not cooking it.
2. Cut a hole in the bottom of your pumpkin — not the top!
Flip your pumpkin on its side and grab your knife.
Directions on how to cut your pumpkin:
First things first — cut the hole big enough to fit your hand in it.
- Use a thin serrated knife or a large sharp knife that you can comfortably grip. Make a medium-sized hole at the bottom of your pumpkin. Ideally, the cutout should be two-thirds the diameter of the pumpkin.
- Use a paring knife to pry out the bottom cutout.
If you’re scared to make a freehand cut, use a marker or pencil to draw a line, and then follow through with the knife.
TIP: Carving around the stem on the top will make your pumpkin die faster because it’s exposed to air. By cutting a hole in the back or bottom, it can help with good air circulation. Plus, you’ll have a flat surface for any designs or carvings, and over time, the top won’t cave in or dry out.
Find cheap carving kits, candy, costumes, decor, and more on KCL’s Halloween deals page.
3. Scoop out the pumpkin “guts.”
You have a few options to scrap the inside of the your pumpkin:
- Attach a hand mixer beater to the end of a cordless power drill and use it to quickly tear through the stringy pumpkin insides. Insert the drill and power away! Then, just pour the seeds and pulp out. This is the fastest method.
- Use a large metal spoon or metal ice scoop; plastic or wooden ones may break.
- Buy a pumpkin-carving kit and use the large scoop that’s included.
- Go ahead and use your hands.
Whatever you do, don’t put your pumpkin pulp in your garbage disposal; the trash is fine.
As for composting, the entire pumpkin can be added to your bin, even the seeds. Just remove any glitter, paint, or wax. If you do add the seeds to your bin, you may end up with a small plant due to the moisture and soil.
Chop up the pumpkin into small pieces, and it should be completely broken down in 8 – 12 weeks. You can’t compost any bleached pumpkins, so just discard those.
Tip: Use a clay-modeling tool or spoon to smooth out the cleaned out insides.
Once you’ve decided on your removal method, let the “guts” hang out in a colander or bowl. Pop the cutout bottom back on and … guess what? You’re done learning how to clean out a pumpkin fast.
4. Save the pumpkin seeds for roasting (optional).
This really should be a required step because after all of your hard work, you should have some kind of reward to snack on later. Next to your work station, set aside two large bowls. Fill one bowl with water to place the pumpkin “guts,” and use the other to place the seeds.
Manually separate them and decide how you’d like to roast them. We’ve already got some useful tips on how to roast pumpkin seeds perfectly every time, so you really don’t have an excuse (unless you’re allergic or really, really hate them).
In case you find yourself sitting on a plethora of pumpkins, here are some gourdgeous ideas: