By now, your garden is overflowing with bright orange squash, including the tried-and-true pumpkin. You've picked out a few to carve with the kids for Halloween. You've put a few aside for roasting to make Thanksgiving Day pie. And, you have a few small ones ideal for decorating. Even if you haven't thought this far ahead and selected the right pumpkins for your needs, it's easy to find most varieties available at most farmers markets and whole foods stores. The question is, though, which one is best for you?
Pumpkins for Pie
Pie pumpkins are one of the most common uses for these treasures of the fall garden. Luckily, many varieties do well for this recipe. Keep in mind that you can also roast and can these pumpkins to have wonderful pies and stews all year long. The following species are some of the best overall for pie use.
- Cinderella pumpkins are said to be the variety first cultivated by the pilgrims. Their flavor is moderate to mild, making them the ideal choice for a pie. They are meaty, too!
- Sugar Pie pumpkins are perhaps one of the most common options for pie making because they are so small and easy to handle. The skin isn't thick, which means you'll use most of it. The flesh is also sweeter than other varieties.
- Blue Hubbard is a unique choice even if it is not your typical pumpkin. It's an old variety and one with a yellow-orange flesh with lots of flavor. It has a hard rind, but bakes well and tastes great in soups, stews, and pie.
When choosing pie pumpkins, ensure the flesh isn't too watery or loose after baking. Look for a pumpkin with a moderate flavor to ensure it doesn't overpower the dish. Most importantly, you want as much flesh as possible.
Pumpkins for Seeds
Many pumpkins are okay choices for seeds, but the Kakai pumpkin is known as one of the best. The seeds are significantly larger here, but what makes them different is that they do not have a hull. This makes eating them far easier to do. Another option for seeds is the Baby Bear variety of pumpkin. These have a nice flavor and are great once toasted.
Pumpkins for Carving
If you are all about dragging out those knives and readying your kitchen for the onslaught of pumpkin guts and seeds, then you must choose the right carving pumpkins for the job. It's not just size you are looking for here, but also the right shape.
Perhaps the best variety for carving remains the traditional Jack O' Lantern. It's bred specifically for its size and shape. The taller, flatter sides make carving a face or intricate design far easier to do than most other varieties. The walls are stiff and strong, too, even holding up to your cutting mistakes. If you are looking for a different option, choose the Lumina variety. They are large and sturdy, too, but the interior is where the interest is. Once carved, place a light within them and they seem to glow beautifully!
No matter your need for the pumpkin, there's always a variety that's perfectly suited for your needs. For soups, try the Red Kuri variety, with is smooth flesh that doesn't require a lot of beating or backing. For stews, choose oen of the interesting Kabocha varieties, with their darker exterior and light yellow interior. Kobochas have a dry flesh that can handle hours of cooking.
With the right pumpkin in hand, there's no telling what you could do with it.