How To Choose The Right Pumpkin
Today, it’s all about how to choose the right pumpkin for your family. How do you choose a pumpkin? This is an updated post from a few years ago. Do you love seeing the little kids at the supermarket looking at all the small, medium, and large pumpkins in those huge boxes?
A few years ago, I went to a local store to pick up a pumpkin to use for a party. The sign said $.89 on this HUGE box of pumpkins. Okay, so I throw one in the shopping cart and continue shopping. I think it has been 25 years since I purchased a pumpkin to carve for Halloween.
Well, as I am checking out the guy behind me asked where I got my pumpkin. I said “over there,” he then said to me, “Well those are SUGAR Pumpkins.” I asked him, “What’s a SUGAR pumpkin?” He then told me SUGAR pumpkins are used for making pumpkin pie. I thought a pumpkin was a pumpkin.
Now I realize this pumpkin is special because it cost me $6.35. I am not getting in line again to return the expensive pumpkin for a cheaper larger one. That sign said $.89. I should have read the fine print that said $.89 a pound. In case you missed my post, Pumpkin Cookies-A Family Favorite
My favorite Pumpkin Carving Tools
How To Choose The Right Pumpkin
Aren’t these colors beautiful? Fall leaves and pumpkins are so fun to look at!
I used to grow pumpkins, so I guess I was having sticker shock at the price of this tiny pumpkin. I guess this is usually not the right pumpkin for me, but it will be this year.
As you can see, pumpkins come in a number of colors other than orange, even though that tends to be the most popular around Halloween, particularly when it comes to making a Jack-O-Lantern. Isn’t it fun to walk around the neighborhood and see the pumpkin lanterns on the front porch of so many houses? It’s one of my favorite times of the year.
So of course, now I am doing the research on SUGAR pumpkins. I must make a disclaimer here, if I’m going to have pumpkin pie with a meal I’ll BUY the pie at Costco. I’ll place it in the refrigerator to keep it cold and slice it when I’m ready to serve it. And of course, I’ll serve it with freshly whipped cream!
I don’t think I could buy the ingredients and make the pie for what Costco makes and sells their yummy ready-to-eat pies. Add some whipped cream and I am good to go! My mother always made fresh pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. Sorry Mom, I didn’t carry on that tradition! Now, let’s find the right pumpkin for you.
How To Choose Just The Right Pumpkin:
1. Never pick up the pumpkin by its stem, it can break off, and then bacteria can grow in the pumpkin wound.
2. Check for bruising or cuts because they can go downhill pretty fast from the tiniest scratch or nick.
3. The smaller pumpkins are sweeter, denser, and have higher sugar content, perfect for pie-making.
4. The tall ones have stringier insides.
5. White pumpkins are easier to paint than orange ones and are great pumpkins for baking..
6. Harvest a pumpkin when the vines start to dry up and the pumpkin is the color you like.
7. Make sure the skin is hardened so you can’t crack it with your fingernail. This is another way to tell it’s ripe.
8. Tap the pumpkin to see how dense the walls are, thick walls block the candlelight. But, a hollow thumping sound means the pumpkin is ripe and ready to harvest.
9. The small cooking pumpkins weigh from 3-7 pounds-perfect for pies.
10. You can roast and eat the seeds of any pumpkin.
- 6 cups raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup Agave or 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or your favorite ones
- Dash of Real Salt
Scrape the seeds out of the pumpkin. Wash the seeds and let them dry overnight, or at least several hours. Get a cookie sheet and cover it with foil and grease with vegetable oil (so the pumpkin seeds can be removed easier after baking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the pumpkin seeds in a medium-sized bowl. Combine the Agave or olive oil, Cayenne Pepper and Real Salt in a small bowl. Stir the liquid until blended and pour over the pumpkin seeds. Stir the pumpkin seeds with the liquid until covered. Place the mixture on a foil-covered greased cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Stir the pumpkin seeds halfway through the cooking period. Let cool and enjoy! These are great for salads or snacks.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:
1. Heart-healthy: 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contains half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. They may help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
2. Zinc: great immune system booster that helps with sleep, depression, and mood swings.
3. Promotes a healthy prostate because of the zinc.
4. Help with diabetes regulation-always check with your doctor before starting any new regimen.
5. Postmenopausal: helps with hot flashes, headaches, and blood pressure.
6. Anti-inflammatory: great for those of us with arthritis issues.
Please Do NOT Can Pumpkin Puree:
If you’re thinking about canning pumpkin, please remember it is not safe to can pumpkin puree. I have a link below for some critical information about preserving pumpkins. Please be safe when canning any food. Always check with your local state extension service, if you have more questions.
National Center for Food Preservation
How Many Varieties of Pumpkins Are There?
There are at least 40 or more varieties of pumpkins. They all come from the scientific Genus Cucurbita, and make up not only pumpkins but also squashes and gourds. There are five main species of pumpkins that include ficifolia, maxima, mixta, moschata, and pepo.
Some of the pumpkin names are delightful and others are funny. Here are a few you may want to get better acquainted with:
- Jack-Be- Little
- Rouge Vif D’Etampes
- Baby Boo
- Long Island Cheese
- Black Futsu
- Cotton Candy
- Those in the F1 Hybrid family, like Field Trip, Tandy, Warty Goblin, and One Too Many
What Are Some of the Common Edible Pumpkin Varieties?
If you are thinking of buying or growing your own edible pumpkins, consider trying some of these varieties:
- Blue Doll
- Cherokee Bush
- Dill’s Atlantic
- Flat White Boer Ford
- Hybrid Pam
- Long Island Cheese
- Lumina White
- New England Cheddar
- Porcelain Doll
- Sugar Pie
Sugar pumpkins are considered as providing the sweetest flavor. Ask your nursery or local grocer which ones they would suggest.
Are There Varieties That Are Only for Decoration and Not Edible?
Yes, some pumpkins look great when you decorate your home, but shouldn’t be eaten. Keep this list handy:
- Angel Wing
- Apple Gourd
- Baby Bear
- Jack Be Quick
Be Aware That Pumpkins Are Subject to Infestation of Insects
Some insects you may have to deal with area:
- Cucumber Beetles
- Pickle Worms
- Spider Mites
- Squash Bugs
- Squash Vine Borers
Check with your local nursery or extension service to see what safe insect treatments you should consider.
Why do we often see pumpkins growing in a “pumpkin patch”?
When you grow pumpkins, particularly the larger varieties, they are prone to take up a lot of space. Many varieties also grow on vines that tend to spread out. A pumpkin patch with lots of open areas is the logical place to grow and harvest this delicious and fun food product.
Let me know your stories about choosing just the right pumpkin, I would love to share them on this post. Plus, how many pumpkins do you usually grow or buy? Please make memories with your families and friends as you carve pumpkins, make pumpkin bread or cookies, and roast pumpkin seeds. Enjoy life as you keep prepping. May God Bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Toasted Pumpkins Seeds Depositphotos_39331555_S,
32 thoughts on “How To Choose The Right Pumpkin”
I have the perfect pumpkins (2) because that is what I got from the pumpkin plant I bought on a whim this spring. One for me and one for my 4 year old grand daughter to decorate. I will save the seeds and roast them according to your directions. Thanks for the information. I think it’s a shame the price they charge for pumpkins here in Pa. When there are so many that are wasted and rot in the fields.
Hi Annette, oh yeah, those would be the perfect pumpkins! Homegrown!! They are super expensive here as well! It’s sad that so many are rotting in fields, that’s terrible. Linda
I’m buying the flat faced non symmetrical ugly ones to carve for the grandkids! The remains go to the chickens. Mainly because I’m lazy and or tired by the time they leave
Biggest issue I’ve got is it’s still gonna be in the 90s this week and they get to stinking
Hi Matt, you are so lucky to be able to carve pumpkins (even ugly ones) with the grandkids! Wow, it’s 84 degrees today where I live! Yay, for chickens to eat the leftovers! Love it! Linda
My wife and I are with you all the way on Costco Pumpkin Pies. But the ones Jane makes are delish–even using canned pumpkin. It’s her crusts. They are to die for.
Hi Ray, oh I love a good pie crust! That is one thing I have not mastered YET! Please email Jane’s recipe to me if she’s okay with it, I will practice and post it on my blog with her name. Fingers crossed! We are so close to pie-making time! Linda
Jane says she’ll dig it out then I can type it up and email it to you.
Hi Ray, no hurry, I’m moving! LOL! Thank you, Linda
Sorry to say but I’m not a Pumpkin fan. Hubby loves pumpkin pie and I make him a sugar-free one.
Hi Deborah, It’s funny you either like pumpkin pie or you don’t! My mom always made a Mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving and no one in the family liked it. My favorite pie is a Coconut Cream Pie! I can’t wait for the holidays! Linda
My favorite pie is pecan pie. Or fried pies like my grandmother used to make. Yum. I also like the Pecan Pie bars. I need to get a yellow cake mix and make some. They taste like pecan pie, but also much easier.
Hi Deborah, oh my gosh, those sound good! Please share the recipe when you have time! It sounds awesome! Linda
LOL I’ll have to find it. I haven’t made them for a couple of years now. I know, I’m so bad. But, since hubby’s diabetic, I have to eat them all. LOL
Hi Deborah, no hurry, I would eat all of them too! LOL! Linda
Hi Linda, Enjoyed your article today. I absolutely LOVE pumpkin pies. As do my hubby and children, g children and ggchildren. I’m the pie baker in the family. Come November, I set aside a whole day and make a dozen pie crusts, which I put into pie pans wrap carefully and then freeze. I make another six crusts that I leave flat, wrap and freeze. THEN, come the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas, All I have to do is make the filling, including an apple and peach pie filling, and bake. I’ve done this for years. Started doing it when I worked full time and wanted to have delicious pies but had to come up with a routine that would allow me to get them made without losing sleep.
Anyway, thought I would share this with you. It really works great.
Hope you and yours are well and safe.
Hi Suzanne, oh my gosh, this is the best idea ever! I love freshly made pies for the holidays! Your family is so lucky to have a pie maker!! You are giving me hope I can freeze the crusts ahead of time! Fingers crossed! We’re doing well, stay safe, and stay well, my friend! Linda
I hate to admit it, but–I’ve never made a pumpkin pie… Someday I will! And I’ll look up the advice/directions of Downeast humorist/novelist John Gould (if you’ve never read anything of his–DO!) According to him, doesn’t matter what kind of punkin you use to make punkin pie–in fact he advises the big “cow” punkins instead of the little sugar ones. (and then hopes, in an aside, that the proofreaders are on his side!) (I’ll see if I can locate which book of his it’s in–there are probably over 20…)
Quite a few years, I’ve had friends pass along some rather, um, elderly pumpkins that have sat on their doorstep until frost and sun have caused deterioration. The chickens don’t mind! Sometimes I’ve even salvaged parts that were still good–I make pickled pumpkin (cubed up bite-size). Tossing seeds, or a soggy pumpkin, on a manure pile or compost heap is an old trick, too–boyoboy will they grow! (Squashes, too.)
About the pie crust–here’s s trick for you. Remember how all the piecrust directions say to use as little water as possible so it won’t bake up tough? So then you try to work with something that won’t handle/roll out well? The trick is–use the smallest amount of water the recipe says, and if the dough is still cracking and hard to roll out, add a little v at a time until it’s easy to handle! The v evaporates out quickly, and has no taste, so you get the right crust formation!
Hi Rhonda, oh that trick sound awesome!! Boy, I loved your comment about all the pumpkins you were given! I will attempt the pie crust in November! Love it, Linda
I’ve made it that way too….works like a charm.
Last winter a friend gave me her family’s seeds of 2 pumpkin varieties. I threw them in my compost pile because I knew they would need some extra nutrition to grow (1 variety is the massive 1/2ton kind). I can’t wait to harvest them.
Hi Jerilea, I love hearing this! Linda
Did the original word beginning with V show up?? :-O
Hi Rhonda, yes, I sent you an email, thank you, Linda
The “Sweet Pumpkin Pickles” recipe I use is from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006). It’s very similar to the old one in Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1941), “Watermelon Pickle” and “Pumpkin Sweet Pickle,” although the latter includes 1/2 oz. powdered lime, and doesn’t include water bath processing. If anyone wants either recipe, and can’t find it in those sources, I’ll copy it out!
Hi Rhonda, what??? I have never heard of pumpkin pickles!! SQUEAL! Those sound so fun!! I need to go check out my Ball recipe book!! Thank you!! Linda
That is great advice! I learned a lot from reading that post. Great knowledge since Halloween is coming up!
Hi Alli, thank you for the 5 stars! Halloween is coming up soon! Linda
Thanks for all the info! What a great post with fun ideas for Fall –
Hi Heidi, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! Fall is a beautiful time of the year. Linda
Thank you sooo much for sharing all of this great info! We are going shopping for pumpkins next week, so the timing was perfect! Love your posts! They are always well thought out and informative! Thank YOU!❤️
Hi Camille, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! Choosing pumpkins is so fun! Linda
I must admit our pumpkin and apple pies are the mastery of a great baker…..Perhaps you have heard of her…. Marie Callander….. That along with her pot pies….NOT THAT kind of pot….lol… fill our freezer.
I do admit my favorite pumpkin in perfectly shaped, not a blemish to be had, and hand blown glass by my daughter!!!
HI Chris, oh she (Marie Cal1ender’s) makes the best pies!!! LOL! I love them too! Your daughter made a hand-blown glass pumpkin????? I bet it;s beautiful!! Linda