What is the difference between a baking pumpkin and carving pumpkin?

Pumpkin season is upon us. I can’t be the only one who did a little dance when I spotted the small selection of pumpkins hitting the supermarkets. After reading all of these wonderful pumpkin recipes, including pumpkin bread in the Autumn Edition and pumpkin soup in the Halloween 2020 magazine, I knew it was time to get the oven going and make some of my own.

The only problem being, I had no idea where to start when it came to choosing a pumpkin. What makes a good pumpkin for eating? What makes a good pumpkin for carving? It’s time to find out.

How to spot a tasty cooking pumpkin

1.       Small But Mighty. A good cooking pumpkin is usually smaller than the one you want for carving. It may also be darker in colour.

2.       Weigh Me. You want your cooking pumpkin to have a thick wall of flesh inside. So, if the pumpkin feels heavier than it looks, you’re in for a tasty treat. This is the opposite way around for a carving pumpkin. Thin walls will make for easier carving creations, meaning you want one that feels about right or lighter.

3.       Sign Me Up. Look for signs that say “pie pumpkin” or “sugar pumpkin” these are the ones you want to cook with. Whilst you can cook with a “jack-o-lantern pumpkin”, you won’t have a lot of flesh to work with. These also tend to be stringer and more bitter than the proper cooking pumpkins.

4.       Time To Shine? A shiny skin can look appealing. However, with a pumpkin, as it ages the skin loses it shine but the flesh becomes sweeter! If you are looking to make pumpkin pie, bread, or lattes, this is the one you want.

5.       Go Crooked. Crookneck pumpkins or crookneck squash is a great choice for cooking. They are easy to peel, with flavourful, non-stringy flesh!

6.       All Colours Are Beautiful. Small pumpkins come in a huge variety of shapes and colours. The type of pumpkin will dictate that. Don’t be shy, give them all a try! See what you and your family like the best. The only way to know for sure, is through taste testing.

How to spot the perfect carving pumpkin

Now we are clear on what you need to look for in a cooking pumpkin, how can we tell the best carving pumpkins from the batch?

1.       Tap That. A good carving pumpkin should feel sturdy and have a hollow sound when tapped. Many hours watching people do this to bread on the bake off comes in handy for this step.

2.       Colour Check. A pumpkin that will see you through the celebrations will be consistent in colour.

3.       Medical Attention. Would this pumpkin need a visit to A&E if it were a human? Scratches and bruises can speed up the breakdown of the pumpkin.

4.       Thumb it. When you apply pressure with your thumb does it leave an imprint or give with your thumb? It’s already beginning to soften inside and won’t last too long.

5.       Safety First. Keep your well selected pumpkin safe by carrying it from the bottom, rather than the stem!

You can roast the seeds from any kind of pumpkin, and honestly, they are delicious! You can find our recipe on simply roasted pumpkin seeds here xx. Don’t forget to experiment with different flavours, from sweet cinnamon to spicy, the basic roasted seeds can taste amazing either way. You will be snacking on them all day!

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