Pumpkin Carving – Gutting & Preserving Your Pumpkin

Pumpkin Carving - Gutting and Preserving |Life With Lorelai

Gooey Guts and Preservation!

There is more to gutting your pumpkin than just getting the stringy goo and pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin shell. Gutting your pumpkin is all about preparing the pumpkin for carving, and for that we need to use the right tools.

About two weeks ago, I shared with you my Pumpkin Gutter. The Pumpkin Gutter is a drill bit that is an amazing tool for pumpkin carving. We are going to use it today for…

Pumpkin Gutting Tools | Life With Lorelai Pumpkin Gutter doing its job | Life With Lorelai Gutted Pumpkin | Life With Lorelai

How To Gut Your Pumpkin Properly For Carving:

  1. If you haven’t washed the pumpkin and transferred the design yet, do it now. You can find some Design Transferring Tips & Tricks here.
  2. Gather your tools: Large Knife; Pumpkin Gutter; Drill; Large Bowl; Smooth-edged Scrapper (if you don’t have a Pumpkin Gutter, a jagged-edged scrapper would help).
  3. Use a bowl to help stabilize the pumpkin and Cut a Hole in the Bottom of the Pumpkin. Remove the cut piece. This will help you with lighting, and also will allow you to adjust the bottom of the pumpkin so it sits well for display.
  4. With your hands, pull out as much of the guts as you can easily. (I use rubber gloves for this part).
  5. Attach the Pumpkin Gutter to the Drill and work your way around the inside of the pumpkin. You will need to stop periodically to remove guts and clean off the Pumpkin Gutter. How many times depends on the size of your pumpkin and how much guts it has.
  6. Once you have removed all of the stringy guts and seeds, it’s time to put the pins back into the holes in the pumpkin from transferring your design pattern.
  7. Use the Pumpkin Gutter to thin your pumpkin shell to 1/2″ to 3/4″ (this is the length of your pins). Your pins will be you guide. Thin the pumpkin until you see the tips of your pins poking through. Your pumpkin will be easier to carve and more luminous all over for a more spectacular display.
  8. Remove the pins.
  9. Use the Smooth-edged Scrapper to smooth out the inside of the pumpkin.
  10. Clean the pumpkin out, and you are ready to Carve!

Pumpkin in Plastic Bag for Preservation | Life With Lorelai

How To Preserve Your Pumpkin After Carving:

  1. Pumpkins are 90% water, so you want to keep them moist.
  2. Refrigerate – Between displays, place the pumpkin in a plastic bag and put into the refrigerator. Your carved pumpkin will last 2-3 weeks!
  3. If you need to postpone carving mid design: Short Break – place a damp double layer of paper toweling over the carved area and leave pumpkin in a cool place. Long Break – place pumpkin in a tied plastic bag and refrigerator. Resume carving and pat pumpkin dry without wiping the transferred design.
  4. Cold-Water Bath – If the pumpkin begins to shrivel, you can soak it in a cold-water bath (cold tap water, not ice).
  5. Once the pumpkin is Re-Plumped, pat it dry (so it doesn’t mold) and either display or put back into the refrigerator.
  6. If a pumpkin develops a mold (green or white fuzzy), use Rubbing Alcohol with Q-tip, cotton ball, or paper towel to clean the mold. Also, before you throw away the molded pumpkin, check it to see if the mold is even visible in the dark with the pumpkin lit…you may be pleasantly surprised.

NOTE: Be sure your refrigerator isn’t so cold that it will freeze your pumpkin. Freezing will not make your pumpkin happy.

Now, your pumpkin is ready to Carve!

Next time, we’ll go over some Carving and Lighting Tips & Tricks!

Have you ever used a bowl to help stabilize your pumpkin?

Do you have any tips or tricks?

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Pumpkin Carving Contest - Life With Lorelai 2013


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This entry was posted in DIY, Halloween, Holidays, Life With Lorelai, Pumpkin Carving, Seasonal, Tips & Tricks and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Pumpkin Carving – Gutting & Preserving Your Pumpkin

  1. Gutting the pumpkin is always the worst for me. I then have to separate the seeds from the guts because my Hubs like baked pumpkin seeds. Great ideas for carving.

    • Thank you. We are separating some of the seeds this year too. I’m going to try baking some of them …again… it’s never gone well for me before. BUT we are also going to try to plant a pumpkin garden next year…that should be fun! 🙂

  2. Finally someone who agrees with me about cutting the bottom off the pumpkin instead of that stupid cap piece! Do you recommend spraying the inside with a bleach solution like I’ve seen so many people do?

    • Definitely cut the bottom! 🙂
      As far as bleach goes, I’ve not tried it myself, but was told by a Master Carver that it’s not a good idea. It dries out the pumpkin and makes it rot faster. And also, you can ruin things with the bleach. Really, keeping it refrigerated in a tied plastic bag is the best bet for longevity.

  3. You have inspired me to carve a pumpkin this year! The last time I did this was in 2009. I look forward to your next post about lighting tips and tricks! Thank you for the fun ideas!!

  4. Rosey says:

    I think this is such a good idea. I keep reading about people planting their own pumpkins, and I think it would be fun. We have a lot of deer here though, so I wonder if the seeds would make it.

    Thanks for the handy info.

    • I have a bunch of raccoons… they raid my fig tree now, but they’d better keep their paws off my pumpkins if I get any next year! LOL

      I hope you are going to be carving, Rosey, and entering my pumpkin carving contest! 🙂

  5. Oh boy, last year I forgot about our pumpkin and he froze on our porch and let me tell you after that, he was SUPER CREEPY! It was actually very awesome cuz he was way scarier than before he froze. I never knew there was a knack to gutting and preserving a pumpkin. Thanks Lorelai! Pinned and Tweeted! 🙂

  6. The one time we did pumpkins, by the time we saw the mold it was too late to save them 😦 I’m obviously not an expert on pumpkin carving as you!

  7. These are awesome tips! I usually don’t have too many problems with mold if they are outside in CO but if we have a warm October we do. I love carving pumpkins.

  8. I can never get my pumpkins gutted properly. They always look a huge mess which is why I don’t even bother doing it anymore. I usually just buy the ones that are already done. I need to learn to do it myself would be so much cheaper too.

    • If you don’t have a Pumpkin Gutter, the Pumpkin Masters Scraper does a pretty nice job, it just takes more elbow grease. The scraper has a wider flatter edge than a spoon so it doesn’t gouge as easily.

  9. Bonnie Frank says:

    Thanks for the wonderful pumpkin tips! I din’t know abut putting it in the fridge.

  10. Shirley Wood says:

    This was all very helpful information, even when I thought I knew what to do! We don’t carve the pumpkins anymore since we are empty nesters living in the country. I’m going to share this information with my daughter who always carves a few pumpkins this time of the year. She probably doesn’t know about storing them in the refrigerator and keeping them moist! Thanks. I shared you contest on my fb wall.

    • Thank you so much for passing along my blog AND for sharing the contest on fb! I really appreciate it. 🙂 I think I will always carve pumpkins even after I’m an empty-nester; I just love it too much.

  11. I never knew about cutting the bottom, I always let my husband clean out the pumpkin. I carve the face and help the kids. The inside stuff grosses me out lol

  12. Carli says:

    You really are a pro aren’t you? I wish I knew all this stuff YEARS ago!

  13. Oh I love playing with the pumpkin guts, I have no idea why! I make roasted seeds every year. What an awesome tip on storing the pumpkin in the fridge, I even have an extra one in the basement so I could store at least 3-4 pumpkins in there.

    • Well, you can always make jellyfish with the guts! When you cut out the bottom, most of the time there is a lot of guts attached, turn it upside down and hag it to make a creepy jellyfish. 🙂

  14. Lorelai, you are full of information when it comes to pumpkins. Wow, I didn’t know there was so much to know about them! Enjoy!

  15. marikach says:

    I’ve never done this before, I know my grandparents used to carve pumpkins and put lights into them, but as we don’t celebrate Halloween, we haven’t had a pumpkin in our house – hm I think ever? Which is sad because even without Halloween, pumpkins are healthy to eat.

  16. What a great idea! I’m loving it!

  17. adelientan says:

    I have never ever done anything with pumpkin, but it is nice to see that pumpkin is another art media. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Jen says:

    Great tips! I will be attending a party next Friday, so I will keep these in mind!

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