- Skin to Seed: How to Eat an Entire Pumpkin
- Why Pumpkin Is a Fruit and Not a Vegetable
- What Are Pumpkins?
- Why Pumpkins Are Fruit
- Are All Squash and Gourds Fruit?
- Pumpkin Nutrition
- Pumpkin is a Fruit
- Pumpkin Crafts and Recipes
- Culinary use disagreement
- History Notes
- Language Notes
- Seasonal Chef: Rouge Vif d’Etampes, Cinderella Pumpkin
- How to Pick the Best Pumpkin for Cooking
- 1. Choose the Right Kind
- 2. Search for a Healthy Stem
- 3. Examine Thoroughly
- 4. Don’t Judge the Gourd by Its Color
- 5. Store It Properly
- Todd and Diane’s Guide to Winter Squash and Pumpkins
- So Many Different Varieties of Winter Squash and Pumpkins, so little time…
- Are different varieties of Pumpkins edible? How about edible winter squash?
- Visual Winter Squash Varieties Guide and Pumpkin Guide with Pictures
- Finding the Best Pumpkins for Pies
- Surplus zucchini? Easy tomato sauce? Preparing beets?
- What Is a Carving Pumpkin?
- What Is a Pie Pumpkin?
- Can You Use One for the Other?
Skin to Seed: How to Eat an Entire Pumpkin
Pumpkins. The plump, orange orbs are everywhere this time of year. While you’re picking out a few for Halloween decorations, it’s worth it to set aside a few for eating too. We’ve rounded up some recipes that will help you make use of everything but the stem, and we’ve found some ideas for what to do with the ones that get carved as well.
Whether you’re carving or eating, you first have to deal with the pumpkin seeds. Simply roasted and salted, the seeds were a special treat when I was a kid, but now the Internet is full of more interesting recipes to spice up this fall favorite.
First scoop the seeds out of the cavity, rinse some of the pulp off, and spread them on a towel to dry. (If you have a garden, you can save some of the bigger seeds to grow next year.)
Here are a few recipes to try. You can use these recipes for seeds from other types of squash as well.
Basic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Cinnamon Maple Pumpkin Seeds
Sweet and Salty
Curried Pumpkin Seeds
Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Seeds
Once roasted, you can also add pumpkin seeds to granola or use them in a snack mix with dried fruit, nuts and chocolate candy.
It’s not just for pumpkin pie anymore. Roasted, cubed or pureed, pumpkin is a quintessential autumn ingredient. Once you puree the pumpkin flesh, you can use it as a substitute for canned pumpkin in endless recipes, from sweet — like pumpkin bread, cookies, pancakes and cakes — to savory — think soup, lasagna, hummus, even burgers. If you don’t use all your puree, make sure to freeze the leftovers. Frozen, it will keep for six months. (Pie photo: CutiePiesNYC via Flickr)
Pumpkin Chips (shown at right)
South Indian-Style Roasted Pumpkin Skins
If you happen to grow your own pumpkins, you can also eat the blossoms using any squash blossom recipe, like this one for Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms.
What to Do With Carved Pumpkins
It should go without saying that it’s not a good idea to eat a pumpkin that’s been carved and sitting around for several days. When your Jack o’ lanterns start to shrivel, you can compost them, or just bury them in the yard. If you plan to do more planting this season, you can start a shrub, tree, perennials or bulbs in it, then plant the whole thing in the ground. Or, fill it with seeds and use it as a bird and wildlife feeder — birds will eat the seeds and critters will eat the flesh. (Photo: Bob Mical via Flickr)
For more ideas for reducing food waste, visit ivaluefood.com.
Why Pumpkin Is a Fruit and Not a Vegetable
As you spend hours in the coming weeks carving pumpkins and preparing pumpkin pies, you may start to wonder: What exactly is a pumpkin? Is it a vegetable? But it has seeds, so is pumpkin a fruit? And is a pumpkin different than a gourd, or a squash? To get to the bottom of the pumpkin mystery, we sleuthed out the facts about everyone’s favorite fall vegetable—and discovered that it’s not a vegetable at all.
What Are Pumpkins?
Pumpkins, squash, and gourds are all part of the Cucurbitaceae family, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. This large plant family includes more than 900 species, including everything from orange pumpkins, to watermelons, to cucumbers. The genus Cucurbita (aka “squash”) falls under this family, so yes, your traditional orange pumpkin is also a winter squash (not to be confused with soft-skinned summer squash, such as zucchini). Ready for the surprise? In the United States, any round, orange squash may be called a pumpkin, but the term “pumpkin” actually has no botanical meaning. Similarly, “gourd” is the conventional term used for plants in the genera Cucurbita (“squash”) and Lagenaria, so a pumpkin is also technically a gourd.
Why Pumpkins Are Fruit
Pumpkins are squash, and also gourds, but are they fruit? According to the Farmer’s Almanac, they are. And if we look at Merriam Webster’s definition of “fruit,” we can see why. A fruit is, “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant.” Pumpkins are edible, and if you’ve ever cut one open, you know it’s full of seeds, so the pumpkin is the fruit of the pumpkin vine.
Are All Squash and Gourds Fruit?
By the above definition, all other varieties of squash are also fruit. So, if you typically claim squash is your favorite fall vegetable, you may want to rethink your response.
Whether you call it a squash or a gourd, pumpkin is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. While one cup of mashed pumpkin contains just 49 calories, it packs 2.7 grams of dietary fiber, helping you feel full for longer. This same small serving also delivers 245 percent of daily recommended vitamin A, 19 percent of vitamin C, 16 percent of potassium, and 11 percent of magnesium, making your favorite creamy pumpkin soup rich in nutrients.
And while we now know that the seeds are what make pumpkin a fruit, we’ve long known how delicious they can be, especially when tossed in salty-sweet seasonings. Luckily, this irresistible snack is also a great source of nutrients. One half cup of roasted seeds provides 4 grams of dietary fiber and 17 grams of protein. Pumpkin spice lattes may be the season’s best-loved guilty pleasure, but the real deal can be just as delicious and much more nutritious.
As the weather begins to cool and you see leaves on trees change from green to brown, you’re also likely to see pumpkins taking over shops, doorsteps, and farmer’s markets. Whether it’s for carving jack-o-lanterns, baking pumpkin pie or roasting pumpkin seeds, there’s a variety of uses for this orange staple of autumn! But what exactly are pumpkins, anyway? Are they a fruit, vegetable, or something else entirely?
Botanically speaking, fruits are classified as the consumable portion of a plant that develops from a flower, and also contains seeds. This includes what we typically think of as fruit such as apples, strawberries, and pears, but also includes foods such as tomatoes and cucumbers!
On the other hand, vegetables are any consumable portion of plants, such as leaves, stems, bulbs and roots — think lettuce, asparagus and carrots. By definition, a fruit can be a vegetable, but a vegetable cannot be a fruit.
Pumpkin is a Fruit
Since pumpkins develop from the flowering part of a pumpkin vine, and also contain seeds, they are, in fact, a fruit! In addition to being a fruit, pumpkins also fall into the category of gourds and squash. While pumpkins, gourds and squash are considered to be fruit from a scientific standpoint, people within the culinary world will often still refer to them as vegetables because they are not sweet.
While pumpkins serve as festive decor for fall, they have more benefits than meets the eye! They are extremely nutrient-dense, containing high levels of vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A!
Pumpkin seeds have a variety of health benefits on their own too. They are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which aids in the creation of serotonin (AKA the chemical in our brain that regulates mood and keeps us happy). Pumpkin seeds also contain phytosterols, which are a plant-based chemical that has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol.
Other health benefits of pumpkins include high levels of potassium to help restore the body’s electrolyte balance, vitamin C to keep your immune system strong and fiber to help you feel fuller longer!
Pumpkin Crafts and Recipes
There are so many ways to enjoy pumpkins this fall! Of course, a Pumpkin Spice Latte and pumpkin brownie is a must!
- Little Pumpkin Handprint Card by Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
- Paper Plate Pumpkin by The Simple Parent
- Tissue Paper Pumpkins by Mama’s Learning Corner
- Beaded Pumpkins by Glue Sticks & Gumdrops
- Yarn Balloon Pumpkins by One Little Project
- Stained Glass Pumpkin Suncatcher by Crafts on Sea
- Tea Light Pumpkins by Smart School House
- Fall Confetti Pumpkins by Made in a Day
- Drip Painting Pumpkins by Momdot
- Velvet Foam Pumpkins by Lia Griffith
- Pumpkin Tic-Tac-Toe by Toddler Approved
- Woodland Animal Decorated Pumpkins by Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
- Paper Bag Pumpkins by Kid Friendly Things To Do
- Pumpkin French Toast with Whipped Pumpkin Butter by Life Made Simple
- Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte by Thriving Home
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls by The Novice Chef
- Pumpkin Spice Waffles by Lovely Little Kitchen
- Pumpkin Alfredo by Yellow Bliss Road
- White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles by Sally’s Baking Addiction
- Pumpkin Rolls with Rosemary and Sea Salt by Drizzle and Drip
- Pumpkin Zucchini Bread by Lovefoodies
- Pumpkin Chili by Olivia’s Cuisine
- Sage Browned Butter Pumpkin Gnocchi by Recipes, Food & Cooking
- Spiced Pumpkin, Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup by Fuss Free Flavors
- Chicken Pumpkin Quinoa Chowder by Wholefully
- Chocolate Pumpkin Pound Cake by Chocolate, Chocolate and More
Whether you use pumpkins for a sweet or savory dish, or just as Halloween decor, there are so many ways to enjoy this fall-favorite fruit! Might we suggest the chocolate covered brownie form?
Healthline | Real Simple | Huffington Post | Good Housekeeping
Pumpkin, fruit of certain varieties of squash—such as varieties of Cucurbita pepo, C. moschata, and C. maxima—in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), usually characterized by a hard orange rind with distinctive grooves. Pumpkins are commonly grown for human consumption and also for livestock feed. In Europe and South America, pumpkin is mainly served as a vegetable and used interchangeably with other winter squashes. In the United States and Canada, pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert. In some places, pumpkins are used as Halloween decorations known as jack-o’-lanterns, in which the interior of the pumpkin is cleaned out and a light is inserted to shine through a face carved through the wall of the fruit.
Pumpkins, which produce very long annual vines, are planted individually or in twos or threes on little hills about 2.5 to 3 metres (8 to 10 feet) apart. The fruits are generally large, 4–8 kg (9–18 pounds) or more, though some varieties are very small. The largest pumpkins are varieties of C. maxima and may weigh 34 kg (75 pounds) or more; the most massive pumpkins ever grown have exceeded 907 kg (2,000 pounds). Pumpkins are often yellowish to orange in colour, and they vary from oblate to globular to oblong; some feature a white rind. The rind is smooth and usually lightly furrowed or ribbed. The fruit stem is hard and woody, ridged or angled. The fruits mature in early autumn and can be stored for a few months in a dry place well above freezing temperatures.
Some varieties of C. argyrosperma are also known as pumpkins.
Cinderella pumpkins. Gloria Cabada-Leman / flickr / 2011 / CC BY 2.0
Cinderella Pumpkins (aka Rouge Vif d’Étampes) are shaped like Cinderella’s coach as depicted by Disney.
They are slightly flattened, with deep orange rind and deep ribs, and occasionally some bumps or netting on the rind.
The size ranges from 7 to 18 kg (15 to 40 pounds.)
See also: Fairytale Pumpkins.
Culinary use disagreement
Most people consider them ornamental pumpkins. Some say they are good to eat as well. Of those, some say the flavour is mild, some say the flavour is bland.
And some say, no matter how you cook it, you aren’t going to make it taste like anything at all.
“Some cooks have dubbed this variety the gourmet’s pumpkin, citing is custardlike flesh and sweet, mild flavor. Gardening author Amy Goldman, who cultivates many heirloom squashes and pumpkins, disagrees, calling it ‘insipid and watery’, not worth a gracing a humble pie crust.” Coulter, Lynn. Gardening with Heirloom Seeds. University of North Carolina Press. 2006. Page 288.
95 days from seed.
Cinderella pumpkin. John Loo / flickr / 2008 / CC BY 2.0
Cinderella Pumpkins were popular in France in the 1800s.
Some speculate that a parent may have been “Jaune de Paris.”
They were introduced into America in 1883 by the W. Atlee Burpee Burpee Seed Company. “Burpee’s first offered this heirloom variety to American gardeners in 1883.” Ibid.
The French name is “Rouge Vif d’Étampes.” In French, “Rouge vif” means “vivid red”. Étampes is the village that, reputedly, Burpee first sourced his seed from.
Cinderella Pumpkin on vine. JH Mora / wikimedia / 2001 / CC BY-SA 3.0
|1.||Coulter, Lynn. Gardening with Heirloom Seeds. University of North Carolina Press. 2006. Page 288.|
Seasonal Chef: Rouge Vif d’Etampes, Cinderella Pumpkin
It’s October and Fall has most definitely arrived. I was very aware of that fact yesterday when I went out in the morning to walk our dog. We have a beautiful cherry tree in front of our house that has begun to shed its leaves, leaving the ground speckled with red. Even now as I look out of my office window I see it’s still filled with green leaves, dots of red all over. Yes, the slow decent to winter has begun. That said, we have a beautiful crop of fall and winter vegetables to enjoy in the meantime. Last week I covered six different types of squash for Seasonal Chef.
This week I have another one to share: Rouge Vif d’Etampes, also known as Cinderella Pumpkin. This French heirloom pumpkin gets its name, as you can imagine, from the fairy tale. The shape looks like her carriage to the ball. The rouge vif d’etampes yields a striking orange puree,
with a sweet flavor to match. After a good rinse to release any dirt that my still be clinging to it, either place in a plastic bag and drop on your porch, or if manageable, use a heavy kitchen knife. After cleaning out the seeds drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 375 for about 30 minutes. Alternatively you can peel the skin, chop and microwave. I think it will take about the same amount of time, so roasting is probably easier. Once out, of the oven let it cool a little and then puree the meat in a food processor.
This particular pumpkin has a good deal of liquid, so draining is necessary. Using a large colander lined with 2 layers of paper towel set it over a bowl for about 30 minutes. The one I brought home from the farmers market was about 10 pounds. From that I ended up with about 8 cups of puree.
Pulling together some ingredients I had in the fridge, I made a quick pasta sauce. Along with the Cinderella puree I had an interesting kale variety called Siberian, I picked up from Deb Taft of Mobius Fields Farm. She has a table at the John Jay Farm Market every Saturday. Deb grows a wide variety of squashes, and also some really pretty leafy greens. The Siberian variety has ruffled leaves, but not as tight as winterbor, with a milder flavor.
After a quick saute of my red onion and garlic I seasoned and wilted the kale, then added the puree. My goal was a 30 minute dinner, and it was just that.
Of special note I want to mention a dry pasta I found at Eataly, in New York City. This one is gluten free and made with corn and quinoa. I’m always on the lookout for new GF products for my clients and this one did not disappoint. The flavor is perfect and the best part: it held up beautifully when cooked. I’m not sure if anyone has it in Westchester, but I have seen it on-line.
So I leave you with this thought: Is it easier to open a can? Sure, but it’s not going to be the same. Every can of canned pumpkin will taste the same. Do yourself a big favor and try out some of the different varieties of squash and pumpkins being harvested right now and showing up at the market. Each and every one has a slightly different taste and texture. It’s fun to try different ones, with different recipes. Click this link to see my recipe for: Fresh Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
As best I can tell, the Cinderella variety is only being grown by Gaia’s Breath Farm. You can find their table in Bronxville, Irvington, Hastings, Gossetts, Larchmont, and every other week at John Jay.
One year ago: Tomatillos
Two years ago: Turnips
How to Pick the Best Pumpkin for Cooking
When fall finally hits the South, you can find us in the kitchen enjoying savory and sweet dishes full of seasonal spices and fresh produce. One thing we absolutely love to cook with in the fall is fresh pumpkin. This gourd can be used in an abundance of sweet treats: Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin-Spice Bundt Cake, and Pumpkin-Lemon Cream Cheese Chess Pie. Pumpkin is also perfect for delicious, savory dishes: Pumpkin-and-Winter Squash Gratin, Slow-Cooker Chicken Stew with Pumpkin and Wild Rice, and Pumpkin Beer-Cheese Soup. If you’ve never used fresh pumpkin before, you might be a little confused about where to start. Here are 5 easy steps to follow for picking out the best pumpkin and making sure it stays fresh.
1. Choose the Right Kind
For cooking, you’ll want to use sugar pumpkins (also called pie or sweet pumpkins), which are small and round. Long Island Cheese pumpkins, which are more oblong and can look like a wheel of cheese, are also good to eat. Field types are larger; have watery, stringy flesh; and are best used for decorating.
2. Search for a Healthy Stem
Find a pumpkin with a well-attached, brown, dry stem (a sign it’s mature enough to be harvested), but don’t use it as a carrying handle. The stem can break off, tearing the shell and leaving it susceptible to rot.
3. Examine Thoroughly
Look for deep nicks, bruises, and soft spots—all signs that rot has set in. Don’t overlook the bottom of the pumpkin, which can sit for long periods of time in wet soil.
WATCH: How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
4. Don’t Judge the Gourd by Its Color
A pumpkin’s hue will dull as it ages, but as long as the skin is unblemished and free of bruises, the flesh inside will still be sweet and edible.
5. Store It Properly
Whole pumpkins should be kept in a cool, dry place. Once cut, they should be wrapped tightly, refrigerated, and used within five days. Puree or cube any that’s left over, and freeze it for later use.
Todd and Diane’s Guide to Winter Squash and Pumpkins
All our winter squash and pumpkin guide images here are works of Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter and are protected by copyright law. Please do not use, distribute, reproduce, sell, re-purpose or take these images. Thank you!
So Many Different Varieties of Winter Squash and Pumpkins, so little time…
We’re obsessed with winter squash and pumpkins. Maybe a little too obsessed because we keep scouring farmers markets and farms that are local and beyond to learn and discover new varieties. Our research started in 2014 during our ambitious attempt at creating a quarterly magazine focused on individual ingredients. Though that magazine project never finished, we haven’t given up! We decided to share all this content on our website and so far it keeps growing. So keep checking back on our obsessed guide to winter squash and pumpkins because we want to be the kids who have eaten the most winter squash and pumpkins.
All these hard-skinned beauties beauties are known as squash or specifically winter squash, which include everything pumpkin and related. They’re harvested in late Summer, early Fall and can be stored for long periods, and then eaten during the Winter. Common winter squash such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash are culinary highlights to holiday menus, but what’s commonly known as “pumpkins” often barely make it past the jack-o-lantern or holiday-design stage.
Are different varieties of Pumpkins edible? How about edible winter squash?
Yes, pumpkins are as edible as any other common winter squash. Some pumpkin varieties are best left to carving because they are more pretty than they are flavorful. Some can be quite watery and tasteless. The same goes for different varieties of winter squash. However there are exceptions to the misconception about how edible these pumpkins and winter squash are. Many of them are quite delicious, rich in flavor and sweetness.
Diane loves eating a delicious pumpkin that her mom stewed for an hour over the stove. What was this delicious pumpkin? It’s what was commonly seen on peoples porches as Autumn decor and often sold as markets called “cinderella pumpkin” or “fairy tale pumpkin”. But for those of us who know and eat this pumpkin well, it’s tan and more often called a cinderella then a fairy tale pumpkin, which is more orange skinned. We call it delicious castilla squash.
Whatever we or others call these gorgeous winter squash, they’re all edible and unique on their own with different levels of sweetness, flavor and texture. No need to argue. Be on the lookout for all these amazing different varieties of winter squash to enjoy!
So let’s get started on our obsession of what we’ve been able to find, cook and enjoy. Can’t wait to keep adding more to our guide for winter squash varieties and pumpkin varieties! Let us know if there’s any unique and delicious varieties you’ve found so we can add to our winter squash and pumpkin guide.
Visual Winter Squash Varieties Guide and Pumpkin Guide with Pictures
Common Name(s): Acorn Squash
Other names : Pepper Squash, Royal Acorn, Table King, Table Queen (aka ‘Des Moines’, ‘Danish’). There’s so many varieties and colors of acorn squash and here’s .
- Green Acorn Squash (when ripened or left out for a while it’ll turn orange-ish, but not to be confused with Gold Acorn Squash)
- Gold Acorn Squash
- White Acorn Squash
Flavor and other notes: Acorn squashes are one of the most well known and popular of all hard winter squashes because they’re so easy to cook and eat! When you’re in a bind and want something quick to eat, you can easily microwave an acorn squash with some butter, brown sugar and maple syrup for a quick vegetable side dish. Cut it in half, stuff it with your favorite meat or grain fillings and voila! After baking it in the oven, a fabulous dinner is served. They’re mildly sweet and nutty flavor with edible skin and orange flesh. They seem to last for months in a cool area on the counter top.
Recipe ideas: Roasted Acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, Stuffed Acorn squash
Common Name(s): Sweet Dumpling Squash
Other names: Dumpling Squash
Flavor and other notes: We found these little beauties at a farmers market in Montana and were super excited to find such fresh-off-the-vine sweet dumplings! Sweet, tender orange flesh. Edible skin. Easier to cut than an acorn squash. White and green stripes. Other similar looking varieties are Harlequin, Sweet Lightening and Heart of Gold but are slightly different in color. We’re on the hunt for those varieties!
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Carnival Squash
Other names: none that we know of yet
Flavor and other notes: When Mommy and Daddy Acorn and Sweet Dumpling squashes have babies, they’re called carnival squash. Ok, maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. Technically speaking, carnivals are a hybrid between the Acorn and Sweet Dumpling SquashesTheir flavor is nutty and mildly sweet and flesh is like a sweet potato and butternut squash. The skin is tender and edible. Vibrant patterns of orange and green colors and stripes. We’ve heard of other similar varieties called Festival and Celebration, but are they the basically same thing? And climate and regional growing conditions just make then “look different”? But do these varieties actually taste different? Don’t know, we’re still trying to figure this one out.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Buttercup Squash
Other names: Bon Bon Squash
Flavor and other notes: Part of the turban squash family, this variety usually has Dark green skin with a light green to gray turban cap. We first discovered this variety in Montana during our fly fishing trip and were thrilled to find such a cute winter squash! When cut in half, their cross section definitely looks like a bon bon without the chocolate. More great info and other variations of the buttercup squash here. This is the variety that we discovered and ate.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Turban Squash
Other names: Turks Cap, Turks Turban, French Turban
Flavor and other notes: Part of the turban squash family, this one is large and has a top “turban” with multiple colors. They look almost fake because of their odd top and bottom shape, but it’s totally edible! It has a very mild flavor, but with some extra spices it can be super delicious. Think cumin, paprika and other potentially flavorful spices to add to this squash. It’s fantastic as a decorative centerpiece or fancy soup bowl. This heirloom dates back as early as the 1820’s. It’s an oldie but goodie! More info and history here.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Butternut Squash
Flavor and other notes: Sweet and nutty. Tan skin, orange flesh, hour-glass shape. You all probably know this squash already, if you don’t then you are definitely must be living in a cave. Just kidding! This is one of the sweetest and most tender winter squashes and honestly, you can most likely find it year round, everywhere. If you’re a fan of Thanksgiving dinner, you’ve most likely had it because it’s a popular potluck dish because it’s super delicious and easy to prepare with endless possibilities. Rumor has it that the longer you store butternut squash, the sweeter and nuttier the flavor becomes.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Tahitian Butternut
Other names: Melon squash, Tahitian squash,
Flavor and other notes: One of the most common and popular winter squashes. Size is from big to gigantic. One of the sweetest winter squashes, with excellent flavor. Here’s more info and here they show the a lot of the different shape variations.
Common Name(s): Spaghetti Squash
Other names: Vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, vegetable marrow, gold string melon
Flavor and other notes: When cooked separates into strands like spaghetti. Can be baked or microwaved and topped with sauce, cheese and meatballs to satisfy you when you’re craving pasta/spaghetti but without the carbs! Other varieties we’re on the lookout for is Stripetti, which is a cross between a Delicata and Spaghetti squash. We’ve also heard of the “small wonder” which is a smaller, personal sized version with outer skin that looks like an orange pumpkin.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Chilacayote
Other names: Fig Leaf Gourd, Malabar Gourd, Seven Year Melon
Flavor and other notes: It’s more of a Summer squash, but it’s cool looking, so we wanted to add it to our list. One of our local farmers grows it in fall and it stores really well like a winter squash. On the outside it looks like an oblong watermelon. But it’s a green-looking Spaghetti Squash that separates into strands just like common yellow spaghetti squash when cooked. The texture is watery and flavor is very zucchini-like. Depending on the maturity level of the fruit, the seeds will be black as the fruit is more mature. Ours was still young and thus, white seeds. It was our least favorite to eat plain, but maybe with some parmesan cheese and bolognese sauce, it just might top our culinary charts! More cool info here and here.
Common Name(s): Kabocha (Green)
Other names: Hoka, Hokkaido, Ebisu, Japanese Pumpkin or Delica
Flavor and other notes: We love eating these family of squashes, but they’re firm and can be tough to cut. But when you get past the knife action, you’ll be in love with the taste. Just stab it and crack it and cook it up! Sweet and flesh is a little drier and denser than most squash. Skin is soft edible if cooked long enough. We’ve had delicious Japanese miso stewed kabocha with the skin-on.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Blue Kuri
Other names: Blue hokkaido squash, Blue Kuri Kabocha, Blue Kabocha
Flavor and other notes: 2-3 pounds, very similar to green kabocha but with blue hues. This was a little jewel we found at a farmers market in Missoula Montana and carried it all the way home. Now we’ll wait to eat it because it traveled so far.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Orange/Red Kabocha or Ambercup Squash
Other names: Sunshine Hybrid, Sunshine Kabocha Squash, Amber-Cup
Flavor and other notes: One of the best tasting Kabocha varieties, super sweet and delicious. Skin is totally edible and overall, a fantastic squash to eat. We’ve only been able to find these at farmers markets and when we do find them, we want to hoard them because they store for months in a cold fridge. More info here and here.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Red Kuri
Other names: Orange Hokkaido Squash, Japanese squash, Baby red hubbard, Uchini Kuri squash, Potimarron in France and Onion Squash in the UK.
Flavor and other notes: Shape is fig or tear-drop shaped.This is a smaller hubbard squash variety. Edible skin, chestnut like flavor, sweet and delicious. Has a pointy tip at one end. Some of the red kuri’s don’t have the signature tip, so we’re wondering if they were just picked too soon? Or maybe they’re actually an orange kabocha instead of a red kuri? We’re still investigating. Hmmm…..
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Gold Nugget
Other names: Golden nugget squash, oriental pumpkin
Flavor and other notes: We LOVE this pumpkin and even have a roasted recipe in our Bountiful Cookbook. We are always amazed at how tender the skin and flesh are. The flavor is fantastic and it’s the perfect size for stuffing too. This is one of those squashes that you definitely want to eat the whole thing. More info here.
Common Name(s): Blue Ballet
Other names: Blue Ballet
Flavor and other notes: It’s a smaller version of a blue hubbard, but with smoother skin. Big hubbards commonly have tough, bumpy grey-blue skin. Both shapes are tear-dropish . They’re chunky, clunky looking but always a favorite. We can’t wait to get our hands on another true hubbard this season because they’re so “ugly-cute” and last forever in a cool dry spot in the house. More info here on blue ballet squash.
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Delicata
Other names: Peanut squash, bohemian squash or sweet potato squash
Flavor and other notes: Skin is super tender when baked and perfect for stuffing. It’s definitely one of our favorite squashes because of the flavor and also it’s thinner skinned and easy to cut. Try stuffing it with meat, quinoa or any other grains with cheese. It’s fantastic! There’s many color variations and sizes to delicata squash. And we have a stuffed delicata rings recipe in our Bountiful cookbook. (shameless self promotion)
Recipe ideas: Coming Soon
Common Name(s): Banana Squash
Other names: Jumbo pink banana squash
Flavor and other notes: Long and large, often sold in pieces with different color varieties. Can weigh 10-40 pounds! For such a huge squash, it has few and small seeds. There’s many different cultivars, including pink, blue, hybrid/rainbow varieties. One average banana squash probably feeds 50. Great info and growing guide here.
Common Name(s): Sparkler Pumpkin
Other names: none that we were able to find
Flavor and other notes: Small, decorative looking, but definitely edible with a sweet pumpkin flavor. The long stem definitely makes them unique looking and easy to pick out in a crowd of mini pumpkins. Use them just like you would the tiger stripe pumpkins. More info here.
Common Name(s): Tiger Stripe
Other names: Mini tiger stripe pumpkins
Flavor and other notes: Most commonly found as decorative centerpieces. It contains little flesh, but it’s edible and perfect as a soup bowl or stuffed and baked. Even if you don’t eat the whole thing, they’re perfect for table-top food displays and vessels for dips and soups.
Common Name(s): Sugar Pumpkin
Other names: Sugar Baby, Sugar Pie, Pie pumpkins
Flavor and other notes: There’s many different varieties and different names, but overall, the flesh and sweet and commonly used for pumpkin pies for their superb flavor and texture. You’ll be able to spot them right away because they’re much smaller than the traditional Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin but they’re definitely tastier!
Common Name(s): Flat white boer pumpkin
Other names: Flat White boer ford
Flavor and other notes: Bright orange flesh interior, aromatic and sugary. They’re subtle and elegant and perfect for carving, then eating. One of these years we want to go all-out and line the whole front of our house with these gorgeous specimens. More info here.
Common Name(s): Fairytale Pumpkin
Other names: Castilla
Flavor and other notes: Seriously, this is probably one of our favorite pumpkins to cook because not only is it easy to find in our markets during the Fall season, but they’re sweet and delicious! Many of these varieties like Dickinson, Chelsea and Kentucky are used to make canned pumpkin puree because their flavor is fabulous. Some say this variety and the long island cheese pumpkin truly makes the best pumpkin pie. We believe them and are total fans of making this one of our top-eating pumpkins!
Common Name(s): Cinderella
Other names: Rouge vif d’Etampes
Flavor and other notes: Gorgeous French heirloom with Glowing orange/reddish outside and large pumpkin that is a show stopping color for fall decor. It’s round and squat and looks like the Cinderellas coach in the fairy tale story. And it’s definitely edible! Don’t be fooled by it’s beauty. Cinderella pumpkins are super popular for decorating, but when you’re hungry, just know it’s a delicious dinner option. More info here and here.
Common Name(s): Peanut-Shell squash
Other names: Galeux D’Eysines Squash
Flavor and other notes: This French heirloom might look odd with it’s bumpy outside “peanut-shell” covering, but it’s delicious! The peanut shell looking warts are cause by sugar in the skin. Sweet, great for baking and desserts. They’re definitely stunning in their own way and if we had more backyard space, we’d love to try to grow it and have tons of these for cooking and sharing. More info here.
Common Name(s): Knuckle Head Pumpkins
Other names: Warty Goblin (orange pumpkin pictured here with the green warts), Red Warty Thing (red pumpkin pictured here with red warts)
Flavor and other notes: They might look scary and warty, perfect for spooky Halloween, but their value goes into the culinary realm. Generally, any pumpkin with warts or knobby rough skin are called “knuckleheads” at markets. We’ve had these pumpkins for a few weeks at our studio and everyone who passes by them think they’re the most cool looking species ever. They have their own fan base now and it’s hard for us to eat them just yet. More info here and here.
Common Name(s): Marina di Chioggia
Other names: Sea Pumpkin
Flavor and other notes: Don’t judge this squash by it’s cover. Named after the italian coastal town of Chioggia, just south of Venice, they’re a show stopper. Italians love to cook it for gnocchi and ravioli and also love grilling them because of their rich and superb flavor! Colors range from rich dark gray-green with gorgeous deep ridges. Make sure to flip to look at it’s underside and you’ll see that it’s truly in the turban family of pumpkins. Sure, they’re bumpy, rough, squat and funny looking but they’re beautiful in our eyes and definitely one of our favorite to have on the countertop. More info here.
Common Name(s): Jarrahdale
Other names: Blue pumpkins, Gray Pumpkins
Flavor and other notes: Super cool looking with grey/blue coloring and it’s delicious. They’re an heirloom originating from Australia and even across the world, they’re one of the most popular for design and decorative purposes. But definitely give them a taste and you’ll be wowed by their sweet flavor and awesome texture! Go ahead and cut a wedge out of this beauty and you’ll see why it’s delicious. Want to grow these blue beauties? More info here.
Common Name(s): Speckled Hound
Other names: None that we know of yet
Flavor and other notes: These beauties are just stunning! Texture is a little drier, but still sweet and delicious. It has a cute stem that is depressed into the squash. Texture is similar to a butternut squash. If you want to grow this beauty, here’s some info here.
Recipe ideas: Speckled Hound Squash Coconut Soup
We really enjoyed researching and photographing this guide. The fun hasn’t ended because we’re going to keep adding new winter squash as they come into our kitchen. Let us know if you’ve come across any other interesting varieties. Coming up next, our sweet potato guide! Stay tuned…
-Todd and Diane
All images here are works of Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter and are protected by copyright law. Please do not use, distribute, reproduce, sell, re-purpose or take these images.
Finding the Best Pumpkins for Pies
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It’s not a pumpkin. Or is it?
Three pies sat on my table. A sweetly spiced aroma wafted through the room while condensation glistened atop the baked custard. Freshly whipped cream with speckles of black vanilla bean mounded high in an earthenware bowl. One pie was deep orange, while another was more salmon-colored, and the third had a cinnamon-brown tone.
A dozen people sat around, waiting for the first slice. They scrutinized the selections. My friends had gathered for a pie tasting; their duties were to test all three and tell me which reigned supreme. All the pies adhered to the same recipe except for one ingredient. And I wouldn’t tell my friends what it was.
Tamalyn, a certified chef, tasted and savored each one. Then she accused, “Hey, this is sweet potato!”
I just smiled. None of the pies were made with actual “pumpkin.”
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The Quest For The Perfect Pie
Like most of my homesteading adventures, the quest for the perfect pumpkin pie began in my garden. And my first endeavor as a gardening adult involved pumpkins.
Raise your hand if you chose specialty French or Italian varieties for your first pumpkin-growing endeavor. You probably chose jack o’ lanterns, right? They’re cute, easy, and seeds are 99 cents a packet.
And they taste horrible.
But I didn’t know that. Because it’s a pumpkin! And pumpkins make pies. So I grabbed the first seed packet labeled “pumpkin” from the dollar store shelf and planted. Jack o’ lanterns swelled up almost as big as my water bill. Then I cut the ripe fruit, roasted it and pureed loose, watery, bitter flesh into something that looked nothing like the deeply hued selections in commercial cans.
Photos by Shelley DeDauw
Realizing I had chosen the wrong type of pumpkin, I tried again the next year. I logged onto the seed company’s website and searched up, “pumpkin.” And I chose the only one that also had “pie” in the description, convinced that “Small Sugar” was key to the pies, breads and cookies of my dreams. Small sugar pumpkins did well in my climate. By October, I had 20 pretty orange globes curing atop my chicken coop. I couldn’t wait to try the first one. Since it wasn’t yet November, I baked bread first. After cutting the top off, scooping out the guts, and roasting the fruit, I tasted the cooked flesh. It was bitter, not sugary as the name suggested. But it was denser than the jack o’ lantern flesh so, after draining it in a colander for over an hour, I made bread.
I attribute the bread’s deliciousness to brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves … all the luscious seasonings that gave my creation its true flavor. Even the color was because of the spices, not because of the pumpkin.
I had to be missing something.
To the internet I went. How could I turn my garden pumpkins into the sweet, dense purée offered in the cans? By searching, “best pumpkins for pies,” I found articles with conflicting claims. They all agreed on one thing, though:
The best choice wasn’t a pumpkin at all.
The best pumpkins for pies may not be pumpkins after all, at least to Americans. What we call pumpkins here might not match the rest of the world.
A Pumpkin By Any Other Name
It’s semantics, really. The words we call things. Internet articles claimed the best choices were actually squash. Butternut, Long Island Cheese, Buttercup … not pumpkins.
But all pumpkins are squash. And, in some places, all winter squash are pumpkins.
While working on a story for Countryside Daily, the online portion of this magazine, I delved into the reasons “growing pumpkins” was really about growing squash.
There are five domesticated species of squash. All sub-species, such as butternut, cushaw, Hubbard and zucchini fall within those five. And most of what Americans call “pumpkins” are part of the Cucurbita pepo species. They’re round, orange, ribbed … sometimes white with orange flesh. Sometimes flattened, sometimes taller. But they almost all look like something that grins, glowing with a candle inside, at the end of October.
It was while I researched that story that I realized people in Australia and New Zealand use the word “pumpkin” for all winter squash.
Back to the internet I went, this time to a large and cherished group of fellow writers. I asked those living in different countries, “What does ‘pumpkin’ mean where you live?”
Michael Manz was first to respond. He’s an expatriate Canadian living in China. Though other Canadian friends confirmed that “pumpkin” referred to jack o’ lantern types, Michael said pumpkins in his part of China are small and green. They’re still orange on the inside, and sweet. The Chinese pumpkins are dipped in egg and fried.
Then Holly Kench replied. She lives in Tasmania, just south of the Australian continent. “The concept of being able to carve a pumpkin makes no sense to me outside the movies,” she explained. The things she calls pumpkins are very hard and thick, but still sweet. They’re also green.
Holly showed pictures of the most common Kent pumpkin, a round and squat fruit with thick orange flesh and a small seed cavity. The skin is forest green with yellow spots. I’d call it a kabocha squash. Lighter-colored Jarrahdale pumpkins are blue-gray. Holly described the only orange-colored pumpkins as “butternut pumpkins” and showed me a picture of my beloved butternut squash.
At that point, Michael spoke up and identified the photo of the “Kent pumpkin” as the type he eats in China. But in Chinese, they’re called Nan Gua, or “South Melon.” Michael says, “Everything is a melon in Chinese. Cucumbers are ‘yellow melons.’”
Even Wikipedia agrees the term “pumpkin” has no specific botanical or scientific meaning. A pumpkin within one region is a squash within another and a melon in yet a third.
So Wait … It Is a Pumpkin?
No, it’s not. It is, but it’s … Okay, let’s start again.
The whole mix-up involves jack o’ lanterns. They’re so popular, due to American traditions, that we’ve come to accept those as the standard “pumpkin.” The term has become synonymous with round, ribbed fruits and cavernous seed hollows. Pretty pictures and marketing have convinced us that pies are made with these glowing orbs.
Though pumpkins are native to North America, their introduction to Tudor England made them a popular pie filler. Pumpkin pie recipes are found in English cookbooks written as early as 1675. The Pilgrims carried the concept of pumpkin pie back to New England with them while the English took squash recipes in a different direction.
But jack o’ lanterns are a fairly new thing outside of America. Nick Johns, living in the United Kingdom, claims that in his first 20 years, jack o’ lanterns were only seen on TV and recently became popular when trick-or-treating overshadowed Britain’s autumn holiday of Bonfire Night. Nick says even butternut squash recently gained popularity due to the rise of celebrity chef shows.
Back in America, pumpkin pie is a regional thing. Pretty pictures and marketing often dismiss sweet potato pie, which is a cheaper and more available filling in the southern United States, but more difficult to grow up north. When drained to the same consistency, baked winter squash and baked sweet potato flesh are interchangeable within recipes.
In my pie tasting party, only Tamalyn, the certified chef, knew the difference.
Are You Going To Reveal The Best Pumpkin Or Not?
Jack o’ lanterns can make pies, if you roast the flesh then drain it long enough. But any palatable flavor comes from the sugar and spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger give pumpkin pie its traditional flavor. And even sub-par pumpkin can improve with good spices. Small sugar pumpkins work better. But if you’re also on a quest to make the best pumpkin pie, why not take it up a notch?
My guests tasted all three pies then cast their votes. I still hadn’t revealed the ingredients, though those who despised sweet potatoes were now hesitant to try that one.
Pie #3 was voted most flavorful. But not everyone wanted the deep, full-bodied tone of sweet potatoes.
Pie #1 was prettiest, a brilliant orange from the Castilla squash I’d purchased at the Hispanic market. With small seed cavities and undeniable sweetness, Castilla squash have stringy crimson flesh, which must be pureed for the best texture. They are bigger than Long Island Cheese and are also called Musque de Provence.
But the winner was made from a zucchino rampicante grown within my own garden. Like a butternut with a really long neck, these are tan on the outside and light orange within. Other names include tromboncino or zucchetta rampicante, and they’re often eaten young as a summer squash. Seeds only form within the swelling at the end, leaving one to three feet of neck that can be peeled, diced, roasted, or made into pies. Pie #2 was such a favorite that one of the judges started zucchino rampicante in her garden the next year.
The best pumpkin pie recipe calls for the sweetest, densest winter squash. Usually, they’re cucurbita moschata or cucurbita maxima, as the pepo species is often too mild and watery. Grow buttercup or Musque de Provence within your garden or purchase butternut at the grocery store. Give zucchino rampicante a try or cultivate unique squash like Galeux D’eysines or Marina Di Chioggia, which get their warts from sugars seeping through the skin. Make sure squash are fully ripe before roasting, draining and crafting into your perfect pie.
Farm Fresh Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Instead of peeling and cubing the squash, simply stab it with a knife and set it on a cookie sheet. Lower your oven rack until the pumpkin fits then bake at 400°F until a knife can easily insert through the sides. Cool the squash then cut it open and remove the seeds. Scrape out the flesh. Let the roasted flesh drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes.
If you want to save and roast seeds, cut the top off and scrape seeds out before baking. Then put the top back on and roast the whole pumpkin until it is soft.
Remember, “pumpkin” is a subjective term. You can even use roasted sweet potato if a loved one can’t eat squash. For a more distinguished flavor, substitute evaporated goat milk for the heavy cream or use 1 and ¼ cups honey instead of sugar.
1 cup white or whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup cold butter
¼ cup cold water
3 cups roasted, drained squash
1 cup raw or brown sugar
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
Heat oven to 425°F.
Pulse the rolled oats in a food processor until the texture of coarse meal. Mix oats and flour in a bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles pea-sized chunks. Sprinkle in cold water, mixing with a fork, until the dough comes together and isn’t dry.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper on the counter. Place the ball of pie dough in the middle. Roll the dough into a circle on the plastic/paper until it is about nine inches across. Lift dough and plastic/paper then invert dough-side-down over the pie plate. Press the crust into the pie plate, shaping as necessary; then carefully peel the plastic/paper away.
Combine all the custard ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth.
Place the pie plate on a baking sheet to avoid spills. Set both plate and sheet onto the middle rack of the oven and carefully pour the pumpkin custard into the crust. Don’t worry about overfilling; let it rise all the way to the top edge.
Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake another 45-60 minutes, until a metal fork inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
Top with real whipped cream.
Published in the November/December 2016 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal.
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The second September hits, it’s uber tempting to grab a shopping cart at your local grocery and go to town loading it up with the pumpkins out front of the store. Tiny pumpkins, great pumpkins and everything in between — honestly, we’ll take them all. Between carving, decorating and baking, they’re all gonna get used, right?
Let us stop you right there. If you’re thinking of using the same pumpkins intended for carving to make a pie, you’re entering into a trap. Not all pumpkins are created equal.
Not to worry, lovers of fall and all things pumpkin spice. It’s pretty easy to separate the jack-o’-lantern pumpkins from the pie pumpkins once you know what you’re looking for.
In contrast to the flesh-packed pie pumpkin, carving pumpkins, commonly referred to as jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, were designed to make it easier to, well, carve. Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins have a thinner shell and typically have less flesh (or pumpkin guts) on the inside. The flesh is grainier and stringy. The inside of a carving pumpkin tends to contain more water than pie pumpkins.
Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, also called carving pumpkins, are less fleshy and easier to carve:
- Thinner shell
- Less flesh/guts inside
- Grainier/stringier flesh
- Contain more water than pie pumpkins
More: Praise Be to the Fall Gods! Halo Top Releases Low-Cal Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Pie pumpkins, also called sugar pumpkins, are smaller in shape than the monstrous pumpkins you’d find at your typical pumpkin patch. Sugar pie pumpkins are commonly found in the grocery store in the produce section or at farm stands. This small, round pumpkin is packed full of flesh that makes it a good choice for cooking. The pulp also has a better texture (less grainy) and is sweeter.
Compared to carving pumpkins, pie pumpkins, aka sugar pumpkins, are smaller and easier to bake:
- Small and round
- Normally found in the grocery store or at farm stands
- Full of flesh that’s good for cooking
- Pulpy, sweeter flesh on the inside
Next up: The 6 best pumpkins for baking
Originally posted November 2012. Updated October 2017.
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You’ve gone to the pumpkin patch to choose the perfect shape and size for your carving extravaganza, but is this the same type of pumpkin you’d use for baking?
There is, in fact, a difference between a pumpkin you carve and a pumpkin you can eat. Learn all about what sets these two types of winter squash apart, and whether or not you can use them interchangeably.
What Is a Carving Pumpkin?
Carving pumpkins are used to create fun or scary jack-o’-lanterns. They have a much thinner outer shell and less flesh on the inside. That makes them easier to carve and create all sorts of fun and spooky designs.
You’ll also notice that they are stringier than pie pumpkins and contain more water, which makes them less ideal for creating sweet treats. So pick the most giant pumpkin you can find and get your carving tools out because Halloween is almost here!
What Is a Pie Pumpkin?
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. Although they make adorable front porch décor, they are best when roasted in the oven and baked into your favorite fall desserts.
You can find sugar pumpkins at the supermarket or a farmer’s market stand. They have more flesh, aren’t as stringy as carving pumpkins, and contain less water, giving them a sweeter and more delightful flavor.
So if you have baking plans, grab yourself a few sugar pumpkins and preheat that oven. Roasting a pumpkin can be done in just a few simple steps.
Can You Use One for the Other?
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 rid all that liquid before creating most dishes.
Carving pumpkins aren’t as high in sugar as pie pumpkins, so they aren’t ideal for all the sweet treats you’ll want to make. The thicker amount of pumpkin meat inside a sugar pumpkin is just what you’ll want and need.
As far as carving a sugar pumpkin goes, we wouldn’t recommend that either. Sugar pumpkins are denser and have thicker skin, which makes carving more difficult and dangerous. For safety’s sake, stick to carving pumpkins for, well, carving.
First off, sugar pumpkins are not to be confused with the ones used to carve jack-o’-lanterns. Also called pie pumpkins or sweet pumpkins, sugar pumpkins are smaller, sweeter, and less fibrous, which makes them a great choice for cooking. They belong to the winter squash family (as do butternut and acorn squash, and kabocha), and are delicious prepared in similar ways.
Sugar pumpkins don’t just look like October—they taste like it, too. Their solid texture turns creamy with roasting, steaming, sautéing, or pureeing. And their sweet-savory flavor works as well with sweet ingredients (like honey, maple, brown sugar, and molasses) as it does with savory ones (like dried crushed red pepper, salty cheeses, and wild mushrooms). Assertive herbs such as cilantro, rosemary, and sage are wonderful with sugar pumpkin. As you’d expect, so are baking spices like ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
How to Buy and Store
Look for a pumpkin that’s smaller and rounder with less defined ridges than jack-o’-lantern pumpkins. Choose firm ones that feel heavy for their size and have dull, not glossy, skin. Inspect the whole pumpkin, especially the stem area, and pass on any with bruising or cracks. Stored at room temperature, whole unpeeled sugar pumpkins will last for at least three weeks.
5 Quick Recipes to Try
Halve, seed, and peel the sugar pumpkins, then proceed as directed.
Coat chunks of sugar pumpkin with olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Roast until tender; sprinkle with fresh thyme.
Toss chunks of roasted sugar pumpkin into a salad of frisée, endive, and radicchio; accompany with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Stir cubes of roasted sugar pumpkin into wild rice toward the end of cooking; season with rosemary.
Simmer cubed sugar pumpkin in vegetable stock, along with sautéed onions, chopped sage, salt, and pepper, until pumpkin is tender. Puree, thinning with more stock, if desired.
In a buttered baking dish, mix slices of roasted sugar pumpkin with sautéed leeks, goat cheese, and chopped toasted hazelnuts. Drizzle with cream; bake gratin until heated through.
The bright orange color is a tip-off: sugar pumpkin is rich in vitamin A. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Eating sugar pumpkin may help support eye health, as well as cardiovascular and digestive health. In addition, it may assist in preventing certain kinds of cancer.