How to choose the right pumpkin this fall

Different pumpkins used for cooking, display

Choosing a pumpkin for your fall event is easy -- you just have to know what the pumpkin is needed for. There is more of a science to it than it seems, with different types of pumpkins for different uses.

First, settle on the occasion: Do you want your pumpkin for a party, decoration or eating?

For a wedding or party
Pumpkins are available (in the northern hemisphere) from August to November. There are different varieties of pumpkins suitable for parties. For weddings or parties, try local farms or farm stands first. “Big Box” stores such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot also have a large supply of ordinary pumpkins in September and October.

For decoration (or to paint or carve)
You need only look for a pumpkin that is:

  • Visually appealing, evenly a deep orange. The shape is just whatever appeals to you. For example, if a pumpkin grew on its side and has a flat spot, you can reject it or choose to use that flat spot as part of your design!
  • Free from cuts, soft spots and bruises. The flesh should feel hard and not give easily.
  • Attached to its stem.

Tip: If you like roasted or baked pumpkin seeds, save the seeds from any pumpkin to use.

To make a pumpkin pie
You will need a small, sweet type of pumpkin (see below) that has been developed for eating. They will be smaller, typically roughly 8 to 10 inches in diameter. The meat is much less stringy and it is smoother than a decorative pumpkin variety. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and potassium and is low in fat and sodium, so they’re great for your diet. You can find these smaller pumpkins at the grocery store and some pumpkin patches and farm stands.


Varieties of pumpkin

  • Sugar: excellent for baking
  • Jack-o’-lantern: most common for carving
  • White Lumina: unusual, medium-sized white pumpkin
  • Gourds: many varieties, used for decorations



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