Every pumpkin has a best purpose. When it comes to choosing a pumpkin, think about what you want to do with it. All pumpkins are edible, but some taste better than others. Then there are those that are best for carving. Here are a few of our favorite varieties, with their best use!
Jack Be Little’, a miniature variety, is dual purpose. Store-bought shiny (painted) ones make an ideal decoration for a holiday table. Remove the seeds from farm- or home-grown specimens and then bake them for a tiny treat. Vine variety. Days to maturity: 90 to 100 days.
- ‘We-B-Little’ is an All-America Selection winner, and ‘Munchkin’ is another great miniature pumpkin. Miniature pumpkins are very productive and easy to grow, sometimes producing up to a dozen fruits per plant.
Photo Credits: National Garden Bureau. On the left, ‘Munchkin’ miniature pumpkins. On the right, ‘Wee-B-Little’ miniature pumpkins.
Pumpkins for carving
- ‘Autumn Gold’ great for carving, decorating. All-America Selection winner. Vine variety. Excellent for Jack-o-Lanterns. Days to maturity are generally 100 to 120 days.
- The larger ‘Magic Lantern’ and ‘Merlin’ are a;sp great for carving and decorating.
- ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’ jumbo variety can grow to 200 pounds. Great for those who want to grow a giant pumpkin. Vine will spread to 25 feet, so space is a must. Days to maturity are 130 to 160 days, so plant early! Thin to the best one or two plants. Feed heavily but keep cultivation shallow. Remove first 2 or 3 female flowers after the plants start to bloom so that the plants grow larger with more leaf surface before setting fruit. Allow a single fruit to develop and pick off all female flowers that develop after this fruit has set on the plant. Take care that the vine doesn’t root down near the joints to avoid breakage.
- ‘Big Max’, ‘Big Moon’, ‘Jack O’ Lantern’, and ‘Funny Face’ are some of the best giant pumpkins for carving.
Perfect pumpkins for pies
- ‘Sugar Treat’ and ‘New England Sugar Pie’ are two of the best for cooking and baking. ‘Sugar Treat’ semi-bush hybrid. Days to maturity are generally 100 to 120 days. ‘Hijinks’ and ‘Baby Bear’ are both All-America Selection winners and have sweet flesh for pumpkin pie.
- ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ is also perfect for pies or soups.
- ‘Peanut Pumpkin’ also produces very sweet flesh and can be great in pumpkin pie or pumpkin puree.
- Heirloom ‘Winter Luxury Pie’ (aka Livingston’s Pie Squash) gets raves for taste but boos for not lasting too long on the vine.
- ‘Baby Pam’; ‘Small Sugar’; ‘Spookie’, a cross between ‘Sugar Pie’ and ‘Jack O’ Lantern’; and ‘Spooktacular’ are great for cooking or carving.
Colorful decorative pumpkins
- ‘Jarrahdale’ has blue-green skin and makes for great decorations.
- ‘Pepitas Pumpkin’ is orange and green.
- ‘Super Moon’ is a large white pumpkin.
Photo Credits: National Garden Bureau. On the left, ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ pumpkins. On the right, ‘Peanut Pumpkin’.
Photo Credits: National Garden Bureau. On the left, a ‘Jarrahdale’ pumpkin. On the right, a ‘Pepitas Pumpkin’.