Pumpkins with gargoyle

A Guide to Picking Your Pumpkins! 

Happy Halloween y’all!  Are some of y’all decorating at last minute or the day of? Earlier this month, we came across the cutest little store outside Charlottesville named “Greenwood Gourmet Grocery” where we picked up all of our pumpkins. That got me thinking: these days, people are decorating with more than your everyday variety “jack-o-lantern pumpkin” anymore. I guarantee that you are looking at white, green, orange, tall, short, squat, and/or skinny pumpkins gathered on your friends’ porches. More varieties than ever are being sold at the grocery store. So what are their names, varieties, and honestly, what are they used for besides decorating that front porch? This is a helpful guide to some of the pumpkins out there! 

Group of pumpkins
Group of pumpkins

There are hundreds of different pumpkin varieties. We will focus on the most commonly found varieties in pumpkin patches, stores, gourmet shops, local fairs, and festivals. The different speciality pumpkin varieties are also used for different purposes such as decorations, pies, soups, stews, etc. We hope this will help you through the fall and winter with your decorating and cooking! 

For Decorating

Howden

Many of the Howden variety.
Many of the Howden variety.

This pumpkin is the variety most commonly sold at the grocery store during the month of October. They have become the classic Jack-o’-lantern pumpkin on everyone’s front porch.  

Pumpkin Fact: These pumpkins were developed by John Howden in the 1960’s in his Massachusetts backyard garden. 

Crystal Star

Crystal Star
Crystal Star

The Crystal Star variety is often sold in stores during the month leading up to Halloween. The ghostly white color is perfect for spooky Jack-’o-lanterns.

Pumpkin Fact: The Crystal Star is different than other varieties of white pumpkins. As they age and mature, most white pumpkins turn blue or green. The Crystal Star keeps its white exterior. So, get your pumpkin carving kit out and have a blast with your big, spooky white pumpkin! 

Casperita 

The small Casperita variety is perfect for interior and exterior decor during the autumn season. You will often see this small variety in Instagram and Pinterest shots throughout this season. These pumpkins are tiiiiny. Perfect to fit in the palms of your hands for those perfect photography shots. 

Casperita and Orangita pumpkins
Casperita and Orangita pumpkins

Orangita 

In those same instagram shots, you will also see the mini orange pumpkin named Orangita. These small orange pumpkins are a favorite amongst children at pumpkin patches: a tiny pumpkin for a tiny human! 

Knucklehead 

Kucklehead Variety
Kucklehead pumpkins on a ladder

We have all seen those warty varieties at pumpkin patches and grocery stores. This variety is so ugly that it is absolutely stunningly beautiful. The Knucklehead pumpkin is perfect for a scary jack-’0-lantern! 

For Baking

Knucklehead pumpkin
Knucklehead pumpkin
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New England Cheddar 

Why buy pumpkin in a can when you can buy it fresh (though let’s be honest, canned pumpkin is not a bad option and can be much cheaper. Do what is best for your personal budget)?! The New England Cheddar Pumpkin is a hybrid best used for sweet pumpkin pies. This pumpkin has a high sugar content. So, if you have a sweet tooth, this pumpkin is for you! 

Other uses include canning.

Pumpkin Fact: the New England Cheddar gets its name from its resemblance to a cheese wheel. 

Flat White Boer Ford

The thick flesh of the Flat White Boer Ford pumpkin makes a succulent and savory pie! The name tells all in how it looks: flat and white. This pumpkin has a small seed cavity, so it has more bang for the buck in its flesh. 

Cinderella

The Cinderella Pumpkin is shaped like the carriage in the fairytale story. It has a bright red-orange exterior color. It is savory but sweet. The moist meat makes it easier to carve. All-in-all, it is a perfect pumpkin for pies! 

Pumpkin Fact: Of French heirloom heritage. It has been a favorite in decor since the 1800s. The Cinderella pumpkin is named from the carriage in the fairytale story. Just a little bit of magic to spice up your life! Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!

Fairytale

Similar in shape to the Cinderella, this pumpkin starts out green but turns into a buff, muted orange when mature. Versatile in its bake-ability and cook-ability. The meat of the pumpkin is sweet and creamy, making it perfect for baking and for savory dishes. 

Pumpkin Fact: The inside of this pumpkin has a bright orange flesh unlike its buff orange exterior.  

For Cooking 

 

Pumpkin on a pink bear
Pumpkin on a pink bear

Porcelain Doll 

The Porcelain Doll variety is best suited (in my opinion) for savory dishes. Once the sweet and creamy flesh is roasted, baked, sautéd, or boiled, it is used to make soups, casseroles, and stews. 

Other uses include pureeing in order to add into baked goods, and canning. Over all, this pumpkin variety is well rounded in its uses! 

Porcelain Doll squash is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. This large squash variety also contains a small amount of calcium. Let’s stay healthy guys!

Pumpkin Fact: The Porcelain Doll appears as a unique pink color with deep ribs when matured. This pumpkin is a fairly disease-resistant plant and wards off most mildew attacks. Yes, it is beautiful on your porch, but it has also become the symbol for an important cause. This pink squash is the perfect item for fundraising activities during October, as it is breast cancer awareness month (for those who do not know, the pink ribbon is the international symbol for breast cancer awareness.) Nationally, growers pledge to donate a percentage of their profits to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. This non-profit foundation’s purpose is to fund breast cancer research through a vigorous vetting and grant application process. It is an important cause guys, so let’s buy more pink pumpkins! 

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Kabocha

Okay, honestly this is a squash. I couldn’t help but slip this into the mix when discussing pumpkins. This variety of squash can fit in nicely in an arrangement of pumpkins on your fall table. 

This squash is also known as Japanese Pumpkin, Ebisu, Delica, Hoka, and Hokkaido Pumpkin. 

This squash has a firm texture with yellow colored flesh. It has a savory but sweet flavoring. Good for roasting and baking in the oven. It holds its texture after being baked. 

Blue Doll

An example of a blue/green pumpkin!
An example of a blue/green pumpkin with other varieties.

This medium to large sized pumpkin is the perfect variety for roasting, baking, and boiling! The orange flesh is a thick, dense, and deep orange that has a smooth, dry, and string-less texture when cooked.

Other uses include toasting the pumpkin seeds for snacks, using the flesh for baked goods, and canning. 

Pumpkin Fact: The Blue Doll has a greenish blue hue. Blue pumpkins are popular in Australia and New Zealand for cooking because of their thick flesh and rich flavor. 

This is your quick guide to some of our favorite pumpkins (and a single squash.)

In the end, we hope you decided to carve a pumpkin this season with friends and/or family! 

We stated in our fall bucket list that we would attempt to carve a pumpkin this year, so we bought a pumpkin carving kit (it had wonderful reviews on amazon and Food & Wine). Elizabeth may have gone to school for architecture, but it didn’t help with her patience for a difficult pumpkin design (HA!). We managed to make your basic faced jack-’o-lantern this year. If you want to see Elizabeth’s x-acto knife skills, check out her beautiful Halloween decorations. She had A LOT of patience for that. 

Elizabeth with her jack-'o-lantern
Elizabeth with her jack-‘o-lantern

So, next time you go shopping, remember that there are many more varieties out there to pick from…hundreds of other varieties. Many are dependent on the area you live in! I hope you will start using different varieties in the kitchen. What is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

You can also see what else we have planned this season with our ‘Autumn List of Things to Do!’

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Cute pumpkin in hand

Carving A Journey is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Although we may earn commissions for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website, these opinions are my own and I fully support these products. 

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