Here to inspire your most plentiful pumpkin season yet, we’ve got everything you need to know about the different varieties of pumpkins, which to pick and where to pick ’em, healthy recipes to try, and how to adorn your home with gorgeous, earthy-hued gourds.
And if anyone gives you a hard time about your penchant for pumpkins, here are some fast facts to help you justify your case.
- Pumpkins are incredibly healthy. They are brimming with beta-carotene, iron, folate, vitamin C and E.
- Just 1 cup of pumpkin provides 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
- Ever-popular pumpkin spice—made of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves—is a nutrient powerhouse. Just steer clear of the sugar-loaded treats lining bakery shelves and opt for healthier versions instead—or make your own!
Pumpkin Varieties (In A Nutshell)
Here are a few fast facts about pumpkins that you may not know: pumpkins are just a type of winter squash, or gourd—both of which belong to the Cucurbitaceae plant family, or, cucurbits for short. There are over 1,000 types of cucurbits and they include everything from squash, pumpkins, melons, zucchini, and cucumbers.
Another little-known fact is that not all pumpkins are for eating. The pumpkins you carve and display on Halloween are not the same ones you make pie with. While you can technically eat carving pumpkins, you probably don’t want to. They are bland, bitter, and stringy. Baby Bear, Dickinson, and Cinderella pumpkins are among the most popular edible pumpkins used in fall baking.
Here are 10 of the most popular winter squash and pumpkin varieties—and how to use them:
|Squash/Pumpkin Type||Size||Flavor||Best way to prepare|
|Butternut squash||2 to 3 lbs||Sweet and creamy||Roast, sautée, mash, purée|
|Acorn squash||12 oz to 2 lbs||Sweet, moist, and tender||Roast, bake, steam, mash, sautée|
|Spaghetti squash||3 to 5 lbs||Slightly sweet but mild and neutral||Roast and “pull” into spaghetti-like strands|
|Delicata squash||1 to 2 lbs||Sweet, nutty, and dry||Roast in rings with peel on|
|Kabocha squash||2 to 3 lbs||Sweet, tender, and nutty||Cook in chunks for soup or use in steamed dishes or tempura|
|Rouge Vif D’Etampes (Cinderella) pumpkins||10 to 15 lbs||Moderately sweet||Roast with spices, great in pies and custards|
|Baby bear pumpkins||1.5 to 2.5 lbs||Sweet and nutty||Bake in pumpkin pie|
|Sugar pie pumpkins||2 to 7 lbs||Sweet, earthy, and nutty||Bake, toast, mash or purée into soups|
|Dickinson pumpkins||10 to 14lbs||Rich, sweet, smooth and dense||Bake in pies, breads, cookies, puddings, soup, and ravioli|
|Edible white Lumina pumpkins (not to be confused with white field pumpkins)||8 to 15 lbs||Sweet and smooth||Bake in pumpkin cake|
Pumpkin Spice Food and Drinks
Cookies, cakes, and pies, oh my! It’s no secret that that pumpkin-spiced everything is an international sensation. In fact, experts say that pumpkin spice addiction is now a real thing. So real in fact that the pumpkin-spiced product market jumped to 600 million in 2018, up from 500 million in 2015.
While pumpkin-spiced toilet paper might not make your list (we couldn’t believe it either!) you’ve probably enjoyed your fair share of pumpkin spiced candles, beauty products, and delectables. Some of the coolest to come out in recent years are pumpkin-spiced Greek yogurt, coffee creamer, pancake mix, and even mixed nuts—but there are infinitely more options if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and bake them yourself.
The internet is awash in creative pumpkin recipes. Here are a few of our faves:
Try these pumpkin recipes:
- Pumpkin Pie Bites
- Pumpkin Spiced Smoothie
- Maple Pumpkin Spiced Granola
- Pumpkin Spice Protein French Toast
How To Decorate With Pumpkins
Take your pumpkin passion to the next level and instead of just sipping and baking with them, turn the exterior and interior of your home into an enchanting pumpkin patch that even Cinderella’s fairy godmother would swoon over.
Stock up on gourds of all colors, shapes, and sizes and try the following:
- Arrange them on a platter to make an eye-catching centerpiece
- Display them on your fireplace mantel
- Pair mini gourds with small pumpkins in the center of your dining table as a seasonal centerpiece
- Place them in a basket in your kitchen or on your outdoor deck
- Arrange a varied collection of pumpkins and gourds ascending your front steps and on your porch or veranda
- Get crafty and use mini gourds to make a seasonal wreath
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