With the many varietals of pumpkins available to the average consumer these days in the Northeast, it may be hard to tell which pumpkins are good for which application? So…let’s talk pumpkins!
Have you ever seen signs at the farmers market for “pie pumpkins” and “carving pumpkins?” Allot of the times the farmers will separate the pumpkins based on their use for customers to choose from. Carving pumpkins or Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins are typically thinner, easier to saw into and have less and more stringy guts on the inside; making them easier to clean while pie pumpkins, meant for baking, are usually smaller and more rounded.
Pie pumpkins are used for cooking or baking and are also called sugar pumpkins. They are more petite and are often used to decorate or paint, rather than carve, if using for ornamental use. Although they make adorable front porch décor, they are best when roasted in the oven and baked into your favorite fall desserts. Sugar pumpkins are also denser and contain allot less water than carving pumpkins, making them better for baking. Just because carving pumpkins are not ideal to roast and make into pies does not mean that they are not edible. By all means, you’re more than welcome to use a big carving pumpkin to roast and puree, but we don’t recommend it. Because the larger pumpkins are full of water, you’ll have to get rid of all of that liquid before creating most dishes.
Now that you know which pumpkin to choose for which application here is a few tips to pick out the best carving pumpkin for a Jack-O-Lantern!
- Pick it up and tap on it: When you tap on the pumpkin it should feel sturdy, you should hear a hollow knocking sound.
- Check the coloring: Choose a pumpkin that has consistent coloring throughout.
- Look for bad spots: Try to choose a pumpkin without any scratches, bruises, or dark spots.
- Apply pressure: gently flip the pumpkin upside down and apply pressure with your thumbs at the base. If it’s not completely sturdy, the pumpkin is not fresh and will rot quickly.
- Set it down: Make sure it sits flat! (Unless you want your jack-o’-lantern to sit a little crooked or be wobbly.)
- Carry it from the bottom: Don’t carry your pumpkin by the stem…it could come right off! Instead, cradle it from the bottom or tote it home in a bag.
There are certainly other varietals available such as the “Atlantic Giant” or “Big Moon” pumpkins known for their size, blue pumpkins like the “Blue Lakota” or “Kabocha” pumpkins and of course the “Porcelain Doll” Pink Pumpkin developed to promote Breast Cancer Awareness, a percentage of proceeds from this pumpkin seeds benefits the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. Of course, there are many more varietals of pumpkins than we have listed here today, so head out to your local farmers market and pick one out that’s right for you…or maybe two!