Which Pumpkin is Best For Cooking?

Your jack-o'-lantern pumpkin may smell nice, but it isn't so good for eating. Which pumpkin varieties are best for cooking?

Which Pumpkin is Best For Cooking?

Pumpkins come from the same family of gourds that include cucumbers and melons. They run the gamut in terms of shape, color, and size. Aside from the ubiquitous orange, grayish-green and white pumpkins are also available. Some can fit in the palm of your hand — or weigh over 1,000 pounds.

Not all pumpkins are meant for eating — large ones, sometimes called jack-o'-lantern pumpkins, should be used for decoration only. Their flesh is stringy and bland, but their typically thinner walls make them easier to carve.

For cooking, heirloom varieties, such as “Small Sugar,” “Sugar Pie,” “Winter Luxury,” and “Cheese,” are a few options you may see. Weighing 5–10 pounds, “pie” pumpkins have sweet, creamy flesh, but do require some work to actually use them.

Most commonly, pumpkins are used for carving, while canned pumpkin purée is used for cooking and baking.

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