Warty pumpkin carving ideas

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)- With Halloween just a few days away, you don’t have much time left to get a pumpkin. Why get an ordinary pumpkin when you can get one that really stands out?

Almost everyone is familiar with the classic orange pumpkin, but there’s a fairly new pumpkin in the patch, the white pumpkin, but what’s the deal with it?

“We’ve had them for the last 3 years.”

In the last few years more and more white pumpkins are filling patches. The white pumpkins like the orange pumpkins, grow underground. They are white because of the way they are grown.

At Langenstein’s on Metaire Road, Jason Carey, the Produce/Floral Manager said the white pumpkins often times confuse customers.

“A lot of people think they are white squash. When I show them the difference, then that sets them straight. The white pumpkins are flat. They aren’t tall and round. The white pumpkins are more saucer shaped.”

Carey said, “The only difference is the skin. They taste the same. On the inside they look the same too. Some people say they even make better pumpkin pie.”

No longer are the white pumpkins only used as decorations. More and more folks are eating them and making Jack-o-Lanterns out of them.

“The white pumpkins are easier to carve, than the orange ones. The skin is less tough. Your knife will go right through it.”

Similar at the core, but different in price.

“The difference in cost is because less farmers are growing the white pumpkins, so that’s why they’ll cost a little more on the retail side,” he said.

When picking a pumpkin, it is really about personal preference. They are seeing a spike in the popularity of white pumpkins.

“They’ve picked up substantially. Some people are buying 4 or 5 white ones, and only 1 or 2 orange ones,” Carey said.

There are also red and blue pumpkins that are grown too.

Carey said there is nothing spooky about these unique pumpkins.

“Don’t be afraid to try one out,” he said.

Langenstein’s is having a “Guess the Weight” raffle on their giant pumpkin. The drawing will be tomorrow, October 28th, so go ahead and try your luck.

All right, I’ll ‘fess up…

I like a good shortcut. Something that can save me time and energy is guaranteed to make me smile.

Take for example the white ghost pumpkin. White pumpkins can be made into a jack o’lantern with a ghostly twist using a few strokes of a knife or paintbrush, then turned into a creepy snowman after Halloween is over, and then baked into a pie just in time for the next holiday.

Ghost pumpkins can add a splash of brightness to your pumpkin patch. The artists in your neighborhood will itch to paint those blank canvases, so plant a lot of these white orbs if you enjoy driving those neighbors nuts, er, I mean, giving these pumpkins as gifts.

Read on for how to make these little ghosts thrive.

Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast

Subscribe to the Epic Gardening Podcast on iTunes or Spotify

History of the White Pumpkin

Pumpkins, also known as winter squash, have come in many colors for as long as there have been pumpkins.

How long? Some pumpkin seeds dating back somewhere between 7000 and 5500 B.C. were discovered in Mexico, making North America the pumpkin’s native land.

Not until recently (around 2005) have the white pumpkins been developed for their own charm and oddity, whereas before they’d be a random shade showing up amongst the orange and green squash at the local farmer’s market.

The Many Types of White Pumpkins

Though the outer skin of the pumpkin may be white or even blue, the inner flesh resembles that of its better known relations of orange pumpkins.

And most varieties make fantastic pies no matter what color they are!

Baby Boo

Baby Boo Pumpkin

This is one of the smallest and the cutest of the lot, though, alas, they are not edible. They would make great craft projects for kids and excellent fall decorating. They are also quite prolific if you like giving away lots of pumpkin gifts: they produce about 400 seeds per pound!

Hooligan

Hooligan Pumpkin

Another small, white winter squash with a bit of green spotting. Maybe you’d like your Halloween pumpkin face to have freckles!

Lumina

Lumina Pumpkin

The Lumina pumpkin is a very popular variety that ends up at 10 to 15 pounds when fully grown, almost white enough to light up your garden without lamps, and boasts an orangey flesh.

Casper

Casper Pumpkin

Just referring to this variety when discussing your garden with your friends could be amusing. It needs a good amount of time to get that snowy skin, about 155 days

If the usual ribbing of pumpkins makes it difficult for you to carve your favorite jack o’lantern face, you’ll appreciate the smoothness of this one. Remember that the Casper is a tad over-sweet when baking, so change the amount of other sweet ingredients to compensate.

Full Moon

Super Moon Pumpkin

Want a bigger, meatier pumpkin? The Full Moon can get up to 90 pounds! If you want this hefty type to stay white, better keep it in the shade.

Cotton Candy

Cotton Candy Pumpkin

Rupp Seeds developed this one. It has a mighty strong stem and a traditional round pumpkin shape. Keep your pumpkin in a dark and cool spot to prevent yellowing.

Silver Moon

Silver Moon Pumpkin

Gee, there are a lot of “moon” references to these white beauties. I can’t imagine why that is. What makes this particular moon special is its resistance to powdery mildew and zucchini yellow mosaic virus. Its medium size will make it a bit easier to handle than its heavier relatives.

Valenciano

Valenciano Pumpkin

A little flattened in shape, a little ribbed, and a little sweet in taste. This is a medium-sized pumpkin that weighs in at around eight to 10 pounds and takes 110 days to mature.

Crystal Star

Crystal Star Pumpkin

The Crystal Star doesn’t yellow with age as a few of the other varieties may. Around 35 pounds and 12 inches in diameter, this is a good large pumpkin for carving and cooking with its evenly-distributed pulp.

White Ghost

Ghost Pumpkin

The oddball of the family with its irregular shape, thick flesh, and unusual taste. Not a really good pick for carving unless you’re really determined.

Polar Bear

Polar Bear Pumpkin

It’s as big as it sounds, weighing about 65 pounds. (Hey, I made a rhyme!) Store it in the sun after harvesting to get that gleaming white color.

Snowball

Snowball Pumpkin

The Snowballs pack thousands of seeds in a little, round, two-pound package. Their dark green stems contrast nicely with their white skin.

Planting White Pumpkins

Pumpkins can be grown just about everywhere, except maybe Antartica. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know.

How to Plant

Do you live somewhere that gets a lot of rain? Try planting the white pumpkin seeds in a mound of soil to avoid water-logging. High winds always knocking on your door? Plant in ditches to block the breeze.

When to Plant

If you live in the warmer climates, it is best to plant seeds outside as pumpkins do not always transplant well. Start your seeds indoors if you live in one of the colder areas. They are safe to plant outside when temperatures stay above 70 degrees during the day and no less than 55 degrees at night. Cold temperatures do not sit well with this plant.

Where to Plant

Make sure the spot you select has well-draining soil with some water retention. Pumpkins do not appreciate too much dryness. The amount of shade will depend on the type you choose. Some need shade to retain their white color. If you want the fruits to have a pleasing round shape, make the soil level and smooth. Uneven soil will make for lumpy pumpkins.

Care and Cultivation

Pumpkins have their quirks no matter whether they’re red, orange, white, or blue. As you would with any plant, take special note of this winter squash’s special needs.

Sun

As mentioned before, different types have their requirements to develop and maintain that moon glow tone. Polar Bear, for example, likes a little sun after harvesting while Full Moon needs shade to stay white. Your type selection may depend on what sort of sun and shade areas you have available in your pumpkin patch. Many pumpkins like about eight hours of sun a day.

Fertilizing

If you want to make doubly sure that you get the blinding white you desire, only use organic fertilizer that won’t mess with the pigment of your pumpkins. Add fertilizer on a regular basis to keep your pumpkins fat and fed.

Watering

While the plants will suffer from lack of water, they don’t like swimming in it either. Make sure the drainage is excellent but don’t let them dry out. Mulch can be helpful in maintaining this balance.

Spacing

I don’t want to sound like a nagging mother who beats you over the head with the obvious suggestions, but here I go: the bigger the pumpkin, the more space it will need. Feel free to respond with a well-deserved “Duh!” Even if the pumpkins themselves will not be that big, the vines can spread quite far and wide, so allow plenty of room for those green curlicues.

Companion Planting

Bees are quite important for pollination so choose plants that will attract bees to your patch: bee balm, Black-eyed Susan, and lavender for example. Sunflowers can help deter pests that want to munch on your vines.

Harvesting and Storing White Pumpkins

Are you craving pumpkin pie or do you like roasted pumpkin seeds to snack on? Here are some harvesting and storage tips for the fruit and the seed.

Harvesting Tips for Pumpkin Fruit

  • Keep track of how long it takes for your chosen type of pumpkin to mature. If left too long, the skin may yellow or freckle, or the fruit may begin to rot from the bottom.
  • Flick the pumpkin with a finger and listen for a hollow sound. Check for resistance by pressing a fingernail into the skin. If the skin remains intact, it’s ripe.
  • Use a knife to cut the pumpkin from its vine. Ripping it free, besides just being plain rude, will leave a ragged stem that may shorten the life of the pumpkin.
  • Most fruit will need to be stored in dry, cool, shaded places. Some types, like the Polar Bear, appreciate a little sun after harvesting.

Harvesting Tips for Pumpkin Seeds

  • Rinse the seeds as you pick them out of the pulp and spread them on a paper towel to dry for about a week.
  • If using the seeds for planting, store them in an envelope with your other seeds or in the refrigerator.
  • If storing for eating, you might want to roast them first before placing in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Pests and Diseases

Though pumpkins are rather hardy, they have a few enemies. The following information will tell you about the little invaders and what to do about them.

Aphids

Aphids are often the first on the list of pests. These tiny green or white bugs can multiply rapidly and love to nibble on leaves and blossoms. Best to crash their party as early as possible with a good blast of water. Introducing ladybugs will help control the population as well.

Beetles

Beetles, whether they are cucumber beetles or squash bugs, are usually best handled by picking them off and drowning them in a tub of ammonia mixed with soapy water. Sunflowers planted nearby and timed to bloom before the pumpkins can distract the beetles from feasting on them.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew may have you rethinking that next powdered doughnut you were about to eat. It looks like its name, and it can live in the soil and move with the wind. A bit of fungicide can curb it. Crop rotation can help avoid infecting plants through the earth.

Learn more: How to control and prevent powdery mildew

Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus

Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus, as well as a few other similar viruses, are often transferred to pumpkin plants through nasty little critters like the aphids mentioned above. If infected early, the fruit can be severely reduced. Weeds also spread infection so be diligent about weeding and controlling pests. Consider planting varieties that are resistant to viruses and mature earlier rather than later.

FAQs

Q: How long do pumpkins take to grow?

A: Pumpkin plant growth stages will vary with the different types, some maturing as early as 90 days, some as late as 155 days.

Q: Help! My pumpkin is turning yellow! What am I doing wrong?

A: Check on the type of pumpkin you’re growing. Some pumpkins need a little more shade or else they will yellow a bit. Others, like the Polar Bear, might need some sunning in order to achieve their blinding white color. And keep track of how long the fruits have been on the vine; some turn yellow as they get older.

Want to sound mysterious or haunting at your gardening group’s next Halloween party? Tell them about your Caspers, your Full Moons, your Silver Moons, and your adorable little Baby Boos.

Then quickly shift to Christmas by throwing in a few comments about Polar Bears and Snowballs to really confuse them. It will probably annoy the ones who hate seeing Christmas merchandise at the same time as Halloween in the stores, but that can be fun, too.

Please let us know about your experiences with this gorgeous white winter squash in the comments below.

Mention this article to your friends so they can spruce up their sea of orange with a few luminous globes as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Kevin Espiritu
Founder
Clarisa Teodoro
Researcher Did this article help you? × How can we improve it? × Thanks for your feedback!

We’re always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better gardener.

While you’re here, why not follow us on Facebook and YouTube? Facebook YouTube 139 Shares

White pumpkins: What are ghost pumpkins and why does everyone love them?

Getty Images

We are all used to seeing bright orange pumpkins filling shop shelves at this time of year, but some of you might have also spotted more unusual looking paler ones.

Well, these grey pumpkins – spookily known as ghost pumpkins! – are a special variety of pumpkin which do not have the distinctive orange colour that we are used to seeing.

A variety called Crown Prince pumpkins have this noticeable grey skin, but there are in fact 45 different varieties of pumpkin – all different shapes and sizes.

In an article for Kew Gardens, botanical horticulturalist Héléna Dove explains: “Pumpkins can range from blue to yellow and spotty, and can be tall, long, pear-shaped, or round.”

Ghost pumpkins have proved popular recently not only because of the spooky name (!), but also because a lot of people like to paint the flesh of the vegetable, as they are easier to colour than orange pumpkins.

Have you seen any ghost pumpkins in the shops? What would you do with yours? Let us know in the comments below!

Ben Birchall This picture shows one-year-old Hallie playing among white ghost pumpkins at Farringtons Farm in Somerset

Bumpy Pumpkin Fruit: Find Out What Causes Warts On Pumpkins

Warty pumpkins are a hot trend, and this year’s most prized jack o’ lanterns may very well be made from warty pumpkins. What causes warts on pumpkins and are bumpy pumpkins edible? Let’s learn more.

What Causes Warts on Pumpkins?

While many people desire a smooth, unblemished pumpkin to carve for Halloween, others love the look of the recently introduced warty pumpkin varieties. No, these aren’t afflicted with some heinous disease; they are actually genetically engineered to create bumpy pumpkin fruit. It is actually natural and not unusual for pumpkins to have bumps, but years of selective breeding have weeded out this natural tendency until what we view as the norm are unblemished pumpkins.

Over the course of ten years of selective breeding, the brand Super Freak has released their most wart-riddled pumpkins to date, Knuckle Head pumpkins. These are genetically designed to be 12-16 pounds of lumpy, bumpy, perfectly sized for carving especially, and deliciously creepy. Gargoyle and Goosebumps are other varieties of warty pumpkin.

Other Reasons for Bumpy Pumpkin Fruit

If you’re certain that you aren’t growing a variety of bumpy pumpkin fruit, then the issue may be viral. Mosaic virus can turn a smooth pumpkin into a lumpy one. The lumps in this case look like they arise from under the skin of the pumpkin while genetically engineered warty pumpkins look like each protuberance sits atop the skin. Mosaic infection is spread by aphids results in smaller leaves and vines as well as leaves with dark and light blotching.

Are the bumpy pumpkins edible? While unsightly, mosaic afflicted pumpkins can still be eaten, although they may be of lesser quality than unaffected fruit.

Insects munching on tender young pumpkin shells can also scar the surface resulting in bumps. Cucumber beetles are usually the culprits here and can afflict all the cucurbits in your garden. They are also vectors for Mosaic virus.

To combat both the virus and the beetles, apply pyrethrin spray to the plant. First, dilute the pyrethrin to 3-5 tablespoons per gallon of water. Be sure to cover all of the foliage. That should take care of the beetles and by virtue of that, Mosaic virus. You can also mulch with aluminum foil to prevent Mosaic virus infection, and discard any pumpkin plants that show signs of infection. Control weeds and aphids via insecticidal soap as well. Repeat applications each week until there are no signs of aphid infestation.

Lastly, bumpy pumpkin fruit may be caused by edema. Edema is most often seen in cool, wet growing years. Unlike Mosaic virus, edema isn’t a disease; it is caused by the absorption of too much water. The plant needs to rid itself of the excess but the cool weather conditions don’t allow it to transpire through its leaves or turn it into more fruit or plant. As the plant cells swell with water, they enlarge and burst. The resulting area heals, forming a scar that is dry, corky and raised. Edema is usually pretty minor on pumpkins, but when it afflicts greens or kale, it can be serious. It will not affect the outcome or flavor of the fruit; it is just some harmless scarring.

If, however, you see signs of edema on your pumpkins and the weather hasn’t been overly cool and wet, you need to either examine your irrigation practices and/or the area of pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch may be at a low point in the yard and susceptible to collecting water.

Once upon a time, only the most perfectly smooth pumpkins would be considered suitable autumnal decoration, and squashes with less symmetrical shapes were left on the grocery store shelves. In recent years, however, the knobbier gourds have been steadily gaining in popularity and popping up all over the place. As far as fall decor goes, the bumpier the better!

PSA: botanically speaking, the words gourd, squash, and pumpkin all mean something slightly different, but not entirely. For the most part, “squash” to refer to an edible variety, “gourd” for the tougher guys you don’t want in your tummy, and “pumpkin” for those big orange, round basketball-looking guys.

Bumpy gourds have been around for quite a while, since we first began harvesting them around 8,000 years ago. And we’ve been breeding them for desired characteristics for nearly as long, whether those characteristics were tougher skins to make it through dreary winters, disease-resistant varieties after a particular plague, or just a squishy squash with a better taste. Now, they’re bred for bumps, too.

So we know we like the bumps (they give our gourds a certain quirkiness), but what exactly are they? Do we have fungus-infected veggies adorning our doorways? What has gotten into all the squashes? If your gourd is a little lumpy to the touch, there are three possible factors that might be responsible.

Genetics

Like we mentioned earlier, farmers have been intentionally breeding bumpy gourds for decades, and they’ve jumped on the bandwagon in bigger numbers than ever before in recent years. Sometimes good looks are just in the genes.

Infected

It’s definitely possible that your squash has contracted a nefarious disease that’s leaving it scarred and uneven. Mosaic virus is the most likely culprit, passed along by tiny bugs called aphids that are feeding on the plant’s sappy leaves. But don’t worry, it’s nothing too dangerous. (In other words, if the bumps are affecting your pumpkins or squashes, they’re still totally edible, just maybe a bit less delicious.)

Edema

Basically your gourd has absorbed too much water during wet growing years, and decided to create a little extra storage space. This usually happens when the plant needs to get rid of the excess hydration, but cooler weather doesn’t let it lift off through the leaves or develop into flowers or fruits. The plant’s cells get swollen with extra water and burst, creating a pocket that heals, scars, and leaves a dry, corky bump on the surface.

Unusual Squash and Gourds for the Thanksgiving Displays

Colorful squash and gourds are signs of Thanksgiving to me—harking back to the Pilgrims—and the Thanksgiving table would not be complete without them. Here are some unusual varieties to look out for—warts and all—and ways to these natural decorations in the home for displays and centerpieces.

Squash, pumpkin, and guards are all represented at the earliest Thanksgiving feasts. Our Pilgrim forefathers subsisted on these edibles during their harsh winters, thanks to the Narragansett Indians who gave them seeds, growing advice and easy recipes. The Pilgrims had gone hungry their first winter, turning up noses at the long-storing foods like pumpkin and squash. When summer came, the colonists planted the seeds given to them by their Native American neighbors. That’s why I pick my pumpkins carefully so that they both enhance my Thanksgiving decorations and stay edible for future use.

Unusual Pumpkin and Gourd Varieties

Have you seen those warty pumpkins and gourds at farmers markets, orchards and garden centers? The ones with growths that look like big zits or peanuts? I first saw ‘Knuckle Head’, a slightly warty orange pumpkin, last year at a local orchard that also sells pumpkins, gourds and corn shocks. Of course, I bought it, along with a half dozen bumpy gourds.

(However, I also quickly discovered that the pumpkin and gourds were genetically altered and patented by Siegers Seed. Saved seeds don’t come true, unfortunately.)

See the photo below. What do you think? Yes, this is the way it’s supposed to look! I love the texture and it’s a great talk piece.

‘Knuckle Head’ was the first warty pumpkin I encountered.

During my vacation travels last month, I found a pink pumpkin that was wallpapered with huge peanuts! Not really. The growths or warts strongly resemble the shape and color of peanuts. It’s a 220-year-old heirloom, ‘Galeux d’Eysines’ from France.

‘Galeux d’Eysines’ is often called the peanut pumpkin for obvious reasons. The flesh makes tasty pies and other goodies.

The warts are created by the build-up of excess sugars in the flesh. In other words, the more peanuts, the tastier the flesh is. Needless-to-say, I’m making pumpkin bread, cheesecake and pie from it. And, I’m saving the seeds to grow next year.

Another heirloom pumpkin I love is muted blue-gray Jarrahdale from Australia. It’s ribbed and changes colors, from blue to musty peach, as it ages. The flesh is bright orange, dry and sweet. I’ve grown it for years, because it stores well and for its ghostly color.

‘Jarrahdale’, a ghostly pumpkin from Australia stores well for up to nine months.

Natural Decorations.

Pumpkins and squash isn’t just for eating. Here are ideas on using natural decorations for Thanksgiving! I hope this inspires you.

If you have an outdoor patio or area, fill your containers and pots and doorsteps with harvest goodness for a very seasonal display.

Inside, display your guards and squash in a woven basket to set on a table or shelf.

How about a natural centerpiece for the table? Keep it low with mini-pumpkins and guards; add apples, pinecones and small candles.

Credit: Svetlana Cherruty/

Pumpkins can also be hollowed out to create a vase for a fall bouquet of flowers and foliage!

Credit: Agnes Kantaruk/

Or, hallow out small gourds and pumpkins to hold candles or candesticks …

Credit: Revelblog.com

And for something else natural …

So, as you carefully select your Thanksgiving menu items, pick up some unusual pumpkins and gourds—that are both decorative and edible!

Browse delicious Thanksgiving recipes, including pumpkin pie!

See how to grow your own pumpkins.

Pumpkins lure us with both mystery and a childlike anticipation of fun. Wreathed in folklore or encrusted in flaky pastry, this vegetable defines the end-of-year holidays, whether you’re a savvy decorator looking for the latest fashion or a kid at heart looking for the perfect jack-o’-lantern.

So let’s tramp out to where style meets squash: the pumpkin patch. Because a pumpkin display can be — should be — anything but monochromatic.

You can go for eerie stripes, spooky creams, screaming reds, wild warts, fissures, grooves and wrinkles — and sizes from giant to smaller than a newborn kitten. In pumpkins, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ways to celebrate the squash include everything from eating it to launching it via catapult. You can carve it into ghostly sculptures or use it as the centerpiece of graceful fall décor.

Most people still love the traditional orange round for jack-o-lantern carving. For this purpose, seek out the heirlooms Howden or Connecticut Field, which set the standard in tall, full-figured squash. Or go for Wolf, with its stout peduncle (that’s pumpkin-geek-speak for stem).

But if you’re searching for a Samhain twist, there’s a world of pumpkin novelty as close as your nearest farmer’s market or pumpkin patch, such as Anderson Farms in Erie, where most of these beauties were found.

Jarrahdale

The look: The deeply ribbed, smooth, blue-gray skin and flat profile of this New Zealand heirloom will have your visitors stopping to take a closer look. Other than the color, it has the shape of a traditional orange pumpkin.

Why you want it: Exceptional in fall decorations, it pairs well with the strong reds of Rouge vif d’Etampes.

Rouge vif d’Etampes

The look: Traditional elegance in a firehouse-red pumpkin.

Why you want it: This French heirloom was the most popular market pumpkin in 1880s France and the inspiration for Cinderella’s coach. With its deep ribs and flattened profile, it’s eye-catching on fall porches.

Lumina

The look: Carved up and lit from within, this pumpkin’s snowy-white skin over its orange flesh makes a perfectly ghostly October centerpiece.

Why you want it: Grab an extra one for cooking, because the flavor is outstanding in soups and baking.

Knucklehead

The look: A gnarly take on the traditional Jack, this pumpkin is covered in warts.

Why you want it: Because owning one of these strange, beautiful, freakishly lumped pumpkins makes your carving truly scary. (If you get lazy, this beastie can go au naturel).

Musquee de Provence

The look: Deeply ribbed, dusky dark green splashed with orange, turning to brownish orange when mature.

Why you want it: Irregular shape screams “heirloom chic”; flesh of mature pumpkin makes chefs wallow in superlatives; French accent practice.

Porcelain Doll

The look: Peachy pink, deeply ribbed and rather squat, with straight sides

Why you want it: A decor smash when paired with other pale varieties.

Magical minis

Little people love pumpkins too, especially those that are the right size for small hands. Try pure white Baby Boo or classic orange Jack-Be-Little, the slightly flattened ribbed charmers ideally sized for a toddler’s grip. For true, round pumpkin form, Little October is the diminutive version of the standard squash. Batwing will thrill younger goblins with its perfect, miniature orange rounds and funky bat-black bottoms; and Lil’ Pumpkemon sports orange stripes over white skin.

Spectacular seeds

Anyone carving up a spooky surprise knows that pumpkins are filled with seeds. Roasted, they’re a popular snack in many homes, and you’ll find recipes calling for pumpkin seeds or seed oil in salads and international cuisine. But the hulls are tough and dry.

If you love the seeds but not the hulls, look in the patch for Kakai or Lady Godiva, varieties that aren’t shy about sporting naked seeds. Well, OK, they’re not truly naked, but the seeds are very thinly coated — so much so that their green skin shows through the hull. Just rinse the seeds, soak in brine, and roast. The pumpkins themselves are fashionable in green and orange stripes, gorgeous to look at before you expose the seeds.

Extravagant eating

Pumpkins grace our tables as often as our décor, and creative chefs crave pie pumpkins for soups, breads, muffins, cupcakes, chutneys, cheesecakes — recipes that give meaning to the term comfort food. Finding a pumpkin with the perfect balance of creamy, sweet, slightly dry flesh makes the difference between blah and brilliant dishes.

New England Pie, Sugar Pie, and Amish Pie are at the top of the list for outstanding flavor and texture. But the king of them all is Winter Luxury, with its sexy beige peek-a-boo netting. It’s the pumpkin that consistently wins taste-offs nationwide. The challenge of finding Winter Luxury rests in its shyness to produce. The vines aren’t always willing to bear fruit, so if you see one for sale, grab it.

Pie, baby, pie

Roasting up a pumpkin is as simple as washing it in cool, running water, piercing it liberally with a paring knife, and popping it into a 350-degree oven for an hour or until it’s tender all the way through.

Once roasted, carefully cut it open and let cool slightly. Remove seeds and pulp, then scoop out the pumpkin for your favorite recipe. Some chefs prefer to cut the pumpkin into chunks before roasting so that the flesh will sear a little for a slightly caramelized sweetness.

Pick the perkiest pumpkin

If you plan on getting out early to pick your pumpkin, choose one that lasts with these tips:

• Strong stems keep the pumpkin fresh, so look for those that are fully attached to the skin. But don’t pick them up by the stem.

• Choose firm, not mushy, pumpkins. Avoid those with cuts in the skin; they’ll rot quickly.

• Keep your pumpkin cool, not freezing or overly hot. Store away from direct sunlight, and bring it in if frost is predicted.

Keep Jack-O-Lanterns jaunty

Once your pumpkin is picked and safely home, keep it fresh and ready for the big night with these tips:

• Wait to carve your pumpkin until one or two days before Halloween.

• Scrape out the walls to a thickness of one inch for easiest carving.

• Immediately after carving, smear petroleum jelly over the interior and cut surfaces to lock moisture in.

• Carved pumpkins will wilt in three days; perk yours up by soaking it in water. Mix one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water to prevent mold from growing on your pumpkin.

The biggest fruit in the world

They are big, tasty questions.

What is the largest fruit there has ever been, and just how big is it possible for fruit to get?

The answer to the first is reasonably straightforward.

This recording breaking feat triggered a discussion about how it is possible to grow such large fruit

The answer to the second, however, is much juicier, attracting the attention of some of the world’s leading plant biologists.

They have just published new research into what influences the extreme size fruit can grow to.

This new research not only reveals something about what goes on inside these giant fruits, it also confirms how much we still have to understand about how plants produce their fleshy, often sweet bounty.

Record breakers

So far, the largest known fruit was a pumpkin, grown by a human, rather than naturally in the wild. Produced in 2014, it weighed more than a tonne, topping the scales at a mouth-watering 1056kg.

The Atlantic Giant variety used today is likely a descendent of the award winning Mammoth pumpkin that held the world record from 1904 to 1976

This freakish fruit is not quite as outlandish as it may first seem.

Indeed records for the largest fruit varieties are broken so often that scientists at Harvard University in Massachusetts, US, decided to research them further to see what could be learned.

“A colleague of ours, Kaare Jensen, brought to our attention in 2012 that nearby in Topsfield, Massachusetts, a new world record was set with a 2009 lb (913kg) pumpkin,” Dr Jessica Savage, at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, told BBC Earth.

“This recording breaking feat triggered a discussion about how it is possible to grow such large fruit.”

Descendants of giants

Most giant pumpkins descend from a few known varieties.

“Competitively grown pumpkins were originally bred from Hubbard Squash and their lineage can be traced back through a series of varieties, each progressively increasing in size,” explained Dr Savage.

Some people eat them but they are more often used for decorations or novelty items including boats

“In fact, the Atlantic Giant variety used today is likely a descendent of the award winning Mammoth pumpkin that held the world record from 1904 to 1976.

“However, in the intervening years, seeds from this pumpkin were crossed with many other Mammoth varieties and the exact parentage of older plants is often unknown.”

Novelty items

These giants of the fruit world have limited uses.

Being around 98% water, they contain relatively little sugar and starch, and may lack in taste as a result.

“Some people eat them but they are more often used for decorations or novelty items including boats that are used for racing,” said Dr Savage.

For giant pumpkins, the solution was simple, build more single-laned roads

Because giant varieties are pruned to grow a single fruit per plant, and are heavily fed and watered, it is uneconomical to grow them for agriculture.

“Producing large fruits, especially giant pumpkins and squash, does not always lead to a greater yield per unit of land,” said Dr Savage.

“But they do serve as a great tool for studying fruit growth.”

Pumpkin highways

Dr Savage and colleagues did exactly that by comparing the anatomy and physiology of giant pumpkin varieties to an ancestral variety, with the goal of determining why giant pumpkin plants can produce enormous fruit.

They were particular interested in the plant’s vascular system, the channels within that transport water and sugar.

“We focused on the phloem because it is the part of the vascular system that delivers sugars, which provide the carbon used during fruit growth.”

The scientists discovered that larger fruits didn’t change the structure of their phloem, or the rate at which nutrients passed through them.

It is difficult to say whether it is possible to predict the upper limit of fruit size

Instead they grew more.

“You can think about how giant and non-giant pumpkin varieties differ in their phloem transport by thinking about it in terms of traffic on a road,” Dr Savage explained.

“If more cars travel between two cities, there either needs to be more roads or higher capacity roads with more lanes. For giant pumpkins, the solution was simple, build more single-laned roads, which in the phloem means building more conduits to transfer fluid.

“The actual structure of the phloem cells did not change but the total amount of phloem increased.”

Outer limits

The fact that giant pumpkins create more phloem to transport vast amounts of carbon to their huge fruits sheds light on how plants move carbon around their bodies, and how much of it they allocate to different parts, such as leaves or roots.

What remains unclear is whether there is a limit to how many phloem a plant can produce, report the scientists in the journal Plant, Cell & Environment.

We also do not know, yet, just how big fruits can get.

“It is also difficult to say whether it is possible to predict the upper limit of fruit size, because we do not know what determines when the fruit stops expanding,” said Dr Savage.

While the phloem limits the fruit’s rate of growth, some other factor may finally kick in to stop it growing at a certain size, an unseen barrier that extreme fruit breeders will be keen to test.

Follow Matt Walker and BBC Earth on twitter.

This adorable Pumpkin Fruit Platter is so fun to make with the kids and perfect for a healthy treat to take to a Halloween or Thanksgiving party!

Looking for a simple fall-themed treat that’s sure to make everyone happy? This Pumpkin Fruit Platter is so much fun to create and even more fun to eat! I’ve found that my kids are more likely to choose healthy foods like fruits and veggies when they’re served in a creative way and with a help yourself invitation. It would make for such a great healthier option to serve at a pumpkin decorating party or a classroom celebration for Halloween or Thanksgiving.

My kiddos had a blast making this Pumpkin Fruit Platter all by themselves for a little pumpkin decorating party we had with some friends. It was a huge hit! The kids, and even the adults, went crazy over how cute and tasty it was.

I love that it can be created with a simple line-up of fruits in a matter of minutes. We used blueberries for the eyes, pineapple for the nose, strawberries for the mouth, mandarin oranges for the body and kiwi for the stem. You could certainly substitute any of these for fruits that your family enjoys most.

I used a 14″ round wood serving platter, but you can use any sized round platter. To make the pumpkin shape (or technically jack-o-lantern), start by creating a triangle in the middle of the board using fresh or canned pineapple chunks for the pumpkins’s nose. Make two triangles just above, to the left and right of the pineapple nose, using fresh blueberries to make the eyes. Next use strawberry halves to make the mouth. Then surround eyes, nose and mouth with the fresh or canned mandarin oranges, filling in the platter completely so it looks like a pumpkin. Finish by placing kiwi slices at the top for the stem.

Ta-dah! So simple and super cute!

I hope you’re inspired to build this Pumpkin Fruit Platter for a Halloween or Thanksgiving celebration. Be sure to tag @thebakermama and hashtag #MyBeautifulBoard to share it and inspire others. I love seeing your beautiful board creations!

xoxo,

Pumpkin Fruit Platter Prep time 10 mins Total time 10 mins This adorable Pumpkin Fruit Platter is so fun to make with the kids and perfect for a healthy treat to take to a Halloween or Thanksgiving party! Author: Maegan – The BakerMama Recipe type: Appetizer Serves: 8+ Ingredients

  • ½ cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 5 large straberries, halved
  • 5 cups mandarin oranges
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced thin

Instructions

  1. On a 14″ round platter or board, start by creating a triangle in the middle using pineapple chunks for the pumpkins’s nose. Then make two triangles just above, to the left and right of the pineapple nose, using blueberries to make the eyes. Next use strawberry halves to make the mouth.
  2. Surround the eyes, nose and mouth with the mandarin oranges, filling in the platter completely so it looks like a pumpkin. Finish by placing kiwi slices at the top for the stem.

3.5.3239

Sharing is caring!

47shares

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *