How to Pick the Best Pumpkins for Cooking and Carving


This is the time of year when you may be wondering “What kind of pumpkin should I buy?”. It’s a question we get frequently. While all pumpkins (a.k.a. winter squash) are technically edible some varieties are preferred for cooking while others are best left for carving.  So it’s important to know the difference.

In general, large orange pumpkins that you see all around for picking may look appealing but they’re stringy and not too tasty. Reserve this type for carving. Smaller pumpkins weighing less than 8 lbs are best for cooking. Look for varieties such as the carriage-shaped Cinderella and Lumina (white).  For baking pies you’ll want a sugary, starchy less stringy variety like Baby Pam or gray-blue skinned Jarrahdale and Blue Hubbard. Moschata, usually used in decorative displays, is great hollowed out and used as a soup terrine or stuffed (think wild rice & cranberries) and roasted. The same goes for little round Baby Bear pumpkins, which are perfect for individual servings of soup or chili.

Now that you’ve chosen your pumpkin, kick the can this season and go fresh! Homemade pumpkin puree is a breeze to make. Simply cut the pumpkin into wedges and roast until tender. Let cool. Use a knife or spoon to remove the pumpkin from the flesh then puree it in a food processor. You’ll get about 1 cup of puree for every pound of pumpkin. Use what you need for pies, smoothies, pumpkin bread, soups, etc. and freeze the rest.

Happy picking!