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Decorating for Fall: Not All Pumpkins Look Alike
People are getting picky about their pumpkins, and that bin of dusty orange ones at the local market may not produce the perfect specimen to display on the porch or front steps. You've seen the white ones, the green ones, the tall ones, and squat ones, but what are their names and varieties? While hundreds of pumpkin varieties exist, we introduce you to some of the more noteworthy, along with their physical attributes.
- Skin: The outside, colored part of the pumpkin.
- Flesh: The stuff inside, used for cooking.
- Carvability: Is the pumpkin fairly easy to carve with a knife or pumpkin-carving kit? If not, it's probably more suited for painting or just leaving alone.
- Shape: Pumpkins aren't just round. They can be squat, tall, long, uneven, etc.
- Texture: Glide your fingers across the pumpkin's skin. Is it bumpy, slightly rough, or smooth as a baby's bottom? That's the pumpkin's texture.
- Ribbing: If you were drawing a pumpkin, the ribbing would be those vertical stripes you create to indicate that it is a pumpkin and not some other round object. Deep ribbing is noted.
- Size: Pretty straightforward -- big, small, miniature, medium. Sometimes indicated in weight.
- Keeps well: Describes a pumpkin's "shelf life" or if it has a tendency to last a few months (uncarved) or quickly wither off the vine.
Not all of these characteristics are featured for each of the following pumpkins profiled.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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The Big Boys
Big, fat, monster-sized pumpkins are the stars of county fairs and international pumpkin harvest festivals, where they are trucked in and hoisted on scales. Like farm animals, the largest pumpkin is the winner of an event, usually earning an award, ribbon, cash prize, and notoriety. In some places, boats are carved out of the giant pumpkins and races are held. The world record for largest is over 2,300 pounds of orange, lumpy prize-winning pumpkin.
Jumbos also make eye-catching displays on porches and in public places. Huge pumpkins are not grown to be eaten or carved. Why? They often lack the flavor of their smaller cousins, and scooping out the pulp can be a chore.
These can be pale to bright orange.
Size: Can grow up to 300 pounds; slightly over 100 is more common.
Dill's Atlantic Giant
Size: Can grow to a whopping 990 pounds.
Musquee de Provence
Ribbing: Large and deep
Size: Grows to an impressive 200 pounds or more.
Shape: The most uniform in shape of the giants.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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An heirloom variety from the Midwest. A mix of blue and green.
Shape: Oblate; top at step, comes to a point or cone-shape
See Jarrahdale, below. Color is pale blue.
It's actually a squash masquerading as a green pumpkin and goes by the names Japanese Pumpkin, Ebisu, Delica, Hoka, Hokkiado Pumpkin. Popular in Japan; grown in other nations for export to Japan.
Skin: Tough and green
Flesh: Yellow; stays firm and retains shape after cooking
Shape: Rounded, irregular
Edible: It has a firm texture and a sweet flavor, which makes it a great choice in the kitchen
Produced in Japan.
Skin: Grey with orange stripes or ribbing
Size: 5 to 8 pounds
Edible: Not a first choice for cooking, but Kakai is popular for its blue seeds, which can be roasted.
An Australian heirloom pumpkin that was developed as a cross between the Cinderella and Blue Hubbard.
Shape: Flattened but rounded like Cinderella
Skin: Light blue-gray
Flesh: Golden yellow
Edible: Some pumpkin experts believe Jarrahdales are the finest pumpkins for making pumpkin pies. Its flavor is mildly sweet, with a texture that is creamy and dense.
Display: Teamed with their red-orange sisters, the Cinderellas, they could potentially be the best-looking porch pumpkin display in town.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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Looking like the bright orange pumpkin that the fairy godmother turned into a carriage in Disney's animated classic, Cinderella, the aptly named pumpkins have actually been favorites to use as decor since the late 1800s.
Cinderella (Rouge, Rouge Vif d'Estampes)
Cinderella pumpkins have become increasingly popular in recent years because of their shape, bright color, and enchanting name.
Shape: flattened, yet rounded.
Edible: Semi-sweet, moist, and good for pies.
Display: Attention-getters because of their bright red-orange skin and whimsical shape. They look especially smart displayed stacked on top of one another, intermittently with faux or real fall leaves.
An heirloom variety that hails from the Midwest.
Skin: Red with green and black markings that follow light ribbing (lines).
Size: Weighs 5 to 7 pounds
Edible: Delicious butternut squash-like flavor.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Pumpkins for a Good Cause
The first known pumpkin to be developed and grown for a good cause: breast cancer awareness. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of pumpkins and seeds benefits the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. The nonprofit was created in 2012 as part of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Proceeds will be given to organizations involved in breast cancer research.
Porcelain Doll Pink Pumpkin
Ribs: Deeply ribbed
Flesh: Deep orange
Edible: Contains a sweet flesh that is great for pies, soups, and gourmet pumpkin recipes.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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So-called because they resemble big wheels of cheese, these pale yellow-orange pumpkins come in a variety of sizes and are striking displayed at different levels on the porch or front steps by themselves or with bright orange pumpkins and flower pots filled with fall bloomers like chrysanthemums and calendulas.
Long Island Cheese
A classic pumpkin of the 19th century.
Skin: Pale cheese colored
Flesh: Deep orange
Shape: Medium; averages 10 pounds. Keeps well.
Edible: Sweet Varieties include 'Long Island Cheese' 'Shakertown Field'.
Musee de Provence
This beauty is often sold in slices in French markets.
Skin: Pale orange-yellow
Ribbing: Deep and distinct
Shape: Medium to large
Edible: Rich, sweet, creamy, and dense.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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Ghostly White Pumpkins
No relation to the star of the ill-fated TLC series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Skin: Bright white; tends to turn yellow if exposed to direct sunlight.
Carvability: Too small
Skin: Brilliant white
Flesh: Bright yellow
Edible: Valued for its flavor; good for baking.
Carvability: It can be carved or painted; however, it doesn't last long.
Skin: Bright white
Shape: More round than squat with only slight ribbing.
Edible: Good for pies and baking.
Carvability: Better to leave alone or paint than carve
(Also known as Valencia)
Skin: Pure white
Flesh: Bright yellow and thick
Skin: Ivory and somewhat smooth like its orange counterpart
Shape: Small and oval
Edible: Sweet, with a buttery texture. One pumpkin is enough for a whole pie.
Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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An old French heirloom variety.
Skin: Dark green with orange/peach blush when young. As it ages, the dark green turns to buff orange
Flesh: Bright orange
Shape: With its flatness and deep ribbing, Fairytale bears a striking resemblance to the Cinderella pumpkin
Size: About 15 inches diameter; 6 inches high and 20 to 30 pounds
Carvability: Not good
Edible: Fairytale's sweet, creamy meat makes this variety a good choice for cooking or baking pumpkin pies.
Green Striped Cushaw
Edible: Excellent, old-fashioned favorite for pies.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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See above, Ghostly Whites
Skin: Orange miniatures.
Skin: Medium orange; scalloped
Skin: Yellow with orange mottling
Ribs: Deep at the top, then fading at the bottom
Shape: Flat with recessed stem
Size: About 5 inches diameter; 3 inches highContinue to 10 of 12 below.
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Warty or Pimpled Pumpkins
Most of these are hybrids or heirlooms, cultivated for their witch and goblin-like appearances.
Skin: Salmon pink with warts that look like peanut shells.
Edible: Good for soups; scent reminiscent of sweet potatoes and apples.
Marina Di Chioggia
A green heirloom Italian variety.
Skin: Thick and warty
Size: 6 to 12 pounds
Edible: Nice, sweet flavor makes it a favorite for cooking.
Skin: Bright orange
Carvability: A hardshell, meaning it is difficult to cut.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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When you think about pumpkins, the color orange comes to mind. There are hundreds of varieties and hybrids of traditional orange pumpkins in assorted shapes and sizes.
Connecticut Field Pumpkins
Sugar or Pie Pumpkins
Small, modest-looking orange pumpkins with smooth skins, they can be carved or painted, but probably look better in a pile on the porch or on front steps. The true value of these pumpkins is that their buttery meat makes the best pies, cookies, and baked treats.
Skin: Netted; unusual; pale orange
Edible: With rich, creamy flesh, this variety is a longtime favorite for bakingContinue to 12 of 12 below.
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They look like pumpkins but are technically squash. These hat- or turban-shaped squash are often bright orange with veins of green and white and are a variety that Native Americans grow.
Shape: Looks like a cap or turban
Flesh: Stringy and pale yellow
Edible: Turbans have an excellent flavor that makes them ideal for baking, roasting, in soups, and as a steamed vegetable. Some parts of the flowers are also edible.