How to Hollow Out a Pumpkin

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Carve a pumpkin with friends as a Halloween tradition.
Carve a pumpkin with friends as a Halloween tradition. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Whether carving a jack-o-lantern for Halloween or using the pumpkin flesh for cooking, hollowing out a pumpkin can quickly turn into a mess. However, when you carve a pumpkin the right way based on your needs, it will allow you to complete your pumpkin project with as little mess as possible.

Gather Materials

Collect the items you need in order to hollow out your pumpkin.

  • Disposable plastic tablecloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Large bowls
  • Sharp knife
  • Pumpkin carving saw, if carving
  • Baking tray, if roasting seeds
  • Pumpkin scraping tool or large spoon

Prepare the Area

Cover your work space with a disposable plastic tablecloth for easy cleanup. Place the large bowls on to the table, along with the knife, pumpkin carving saw and a tray for the pumpkin seeds if you want to collect them for baking later on. One of the bowls will collect the soft, stringy insides of the pumpkin, which you will dispose of, and one will collect the hard flesh of the pumpkin if you will use it for baking or cooking.

Hollow Out a Pumpkin for Baking

Wash off baking pumpkins to remove any exterior dirt. Most recipes usually call for two or more baking pumpkins, which are smaller, smoother and rounder than carving pumpkins. Cut off the stem end of each pumpkin and discard. If making pumpkin soup, you may want to save the hollowed-out pumpkins as a whimsical bowl to serve the soup in.

Slice each pumpkin in half using a sharp knife and scoop out the soft, stringy parts of the pumpkin using a pumpkin scraper tool or a large spoon. Discard the soft insides. Once you reach the firmer flesh inside of each pumpkin half, continue scraping it out, collecting the flesh in a separate bowl for use in your recipe. If using the pumpkin flesh to make a pie or other baked recipe, place the halved pumpkins, cut sides facing down, on a baking dish before removing the firmer flesh. Bake the pumpkins in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about an hour until soft, and then scoop out the pumpkin flesh with a spoon for use.

Hollow Out a Pumpkin for Carving

Wash off the carving pumpkin to remove any exterior dirt and turn the pumpkin on its side. Using a pumpkin saw—you can find one in any pumpkin carving set—cut a circle around the bottom of the pumpkin that measures at least 4 inches across. Once you complete the cut around the entire circle, gently move the cut piece back and forth to loosen it from the pumpkin. Remove the cut-out piece and discard.

Put on gloves and clean out the inside of the pumpkin using the pumpkin scraping tool or a large spoon. Discard all of the scrapings into a bowl. Continue until you clean out all of the soft parts inside of the pumpkin. To make the pumpkin easier to carve for younger children, continue scraping out some of the flesh of the pumpkin in order to thin the walls. Separate the seeds from the pumpkin scrapings if you want to keep them for roasting later.

References

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