All members of the pumpkin family have character. From the standard and unassuming medium-size to prim miniatures and imposing mammoths, they come in many different shapes and sizes, being extremely versatile in their everyday use. Pumpkin colors are no less diverse, ranging from the perfunctory orange and green to boldly exotic reds, whites, and blues.
Best Halloween Pumpkin
'Connecticut Field' and jack-o'-lanterns are some of the more popular contenders for pumpkin carving in Halloween. Though these medium and small pumpkin varieties are generally considered safer and easier to manage, large sizes like the 'Big Moon' and 'Atlantic Giant' may be preferable for carving contests and other non-domestic purposes. In addition, Howden-like hybrids, known for their extreme durability, have been strategically bred for carving and ornamental sales.
Many of the highly sought after Halloween pumpkins can be easily found in grocery stores and pumpkin patches. However, creative consumers, party planners, and home decorators may find themselves conducting intense research into local farms and specialized vendors before finally finding the best pumpkin that meets their needs. Excellent choices include miniature pumpkins and some ornamental gourds, such as the 'Marina de Chioggia', 'Autumn Wings', and 'Queensland Blue'. Many of these will last up to a year if undamaged.
Best Pumpkin for Cooking
The term “pie pumpkin” is used to refer to any pumpkin with non-bitter meat, like long pumpkin, which is pleasing and palatable enough for human consumption. These varieties are considered to be the best for pumpkin-based dishes, such as pie, breads, beverages, hearty soups, and stews.
Luckily, the best varieties for pumpkin pie — like those sold in major supermarkets — also make a great choice for the classic Halloween carvings and pumpkin decorations. For strictly culinary purposes, canned pumpkin is also a great option, readily available in grocery stores and supermarkets.
While pie pumpkins are versatile enough to be used in both sweet and savory meals, acorn, butternut, and some other pumpkin squashes are best known for their role in salads and entrees because of their distinctive woodsy flavor.
Best Pumpkin for Beauty Treatments
With astringent, antioxidant, and healing properties, any type of pumpkin makes for a natural and restorative treatment for the skin. However, once opened, the average pumpkin will last no more than a few days before moisture and mold wreak havoc. Therefore, the best pumpkin for topical use is the miniature pumpkin, as it produces significantly less flesh than larger varieties. However, in some instances, it may be easier to use canned pumpkin or whichever variety is readily available.
For best results, combine the pumpkin puree with milk, honey, or coconut oil before applying it directly to the face and neck as a mask. Similarly, a pumpkin shower scrub can be created by combining the pumpkin with brown sugar or coffee grinds.
The uses pumpkin is good for have evolved over the years, allowing for greater possibilities in the culinary, decorative, and beauty industries. While the standard orange pumpkin remains the most versatile in terms of its size, appearance, and edibility, selecting the perfect pumpkin has more to do with individual preferences and needs. Thus, the best pumpkin, as it turns out, is the one selected with lots of love and care.
- Pumpkin Chic: Decorating with Pumpkins and Gourds, pp. 9 – 14
- The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Some Pumpkins
- University of Illinois, Pumpkins and More
- Cornell University, Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners
- Missouri Botanical Garden, Gardening Help FAQ’s, Horticulture Questions and Answers