≡ Menu

The Best Pumpkins for Pumkin Pie

Cinderella Pumpkin

Not all pumpkins are created equal. True, they are all edible, but some make better pie filling that others. The most desirable traits for making pie are taste and texture. Taste can be enhanced with spices and flavorings but why not get a pumpkin with a truly good flavor to start with? Texture is another matter. You don’t want a stringy pie filling. smooth is the quality you want.

Pumpkins have been bred for two very different uses; ornamental and culinary. A pumpkin bred for its ornamental qualities is generally larger, less dense (and therefore watery), and have a flat bottom so they will stand up. There are some very small varieties grown as ornamentals but unless they have been bred for taste and texture too they will be only moderately acceptable in pies. Culinary pumpkins, on the other hand, are generally small to medium in size, with dense, smooth flesh. Some of them are very attractive and many have excellent keeping qualities. Here are some pumpkin varieties bred for their usefulness in cooking but they all can be carved too.

New England Pie (Cucurbita pepo)
Also known as Northern pie and sugar pie, this heirloom variety is the traditional pie-pumpkin used on the East coast. It is considered by most people to be the premiere pumpkin for pies because of its sweetness and smooth texture. The small fruits weight only 5-8 pounds, have bright orange skin, and make good mini jack-o-lanterns as well as pie filling. ‘Baby Pam Sugar’, the modern equivalent, is slightly smaller and is favored by commercial growers because of its uniform size.

Winter Luxury (Curcurbita pepo)
An heirloom pumpkin than has been around over 100 years, Winter Luxury is globe shaped, and has finely netted skin and a golden russet color. At about 6 pounds, it is a small pumpkin but has the sweet smooth flesh good for pies and is a good keeper.

Long Island Cheese (Curcurbita moschata)
The flattened shape and coloring resembling a wheel of cheese gave this heirloom squash its name. It was a favorite of the people of New York and New Jersey for pie in the 1800s although it is not as sweet as some other pie pumpkins. It weights 6-10 pounds, has buff colored fruits and a long storage life.

Rouge Vif d’Estampes (Curcurbita maxima)
Also called the Cinderella pumpkin because of its resemblance to the pumpkin coach of Cindererella fame, this French heirloom pumpkin is deep red-orange, flattened, and deeply ribbed. It is the largest pumpkin traditionally used for cooking, weighing in at up to 25 pounds. It measures 15” in diameter and 6” high. It’s shape makes it very appealing as part of a holiday center piece especially for children.

The New England pie (i.e. sugar pie) pumpkin is the most easily found but if you are inclined to grow your own pumpkins for cooking, your choices are considerablely greater. Many on-line seed companies off seed of the less available culinary pumpkins so start early and by fall you will have your very own pumpkins.

Vegetable Gardening pointer

Recommended Reading:

Growing Vegetable Soup
The Art of Simple Food II
Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Pots
The Art of Simple Food
Chez Panisse Café Cookbook
Kitchen Garden Experts
Eddies Garden
Groundbreaking Food Gardens
Book Review:Making the Most of Your Allotment
Small Spaces Big Ideas
The Joy of Pickling
Gardening with Less Water
The Little Gardener
Salad Samurai
Power Vegetables!
Gardening the Mediterranean Way
My Pantry
The Dirt Cure
The Ultimate Guide to Gardening
Chez Panisse Vegetables
The Friendship Garden Green: Thumbs Up
Food Rules
Lettuce Grows on the Ground
A Plant Based Life
Growing a Feast
Plantlab
The Urban Homesteading Cookbook
Dandelion & Quince
Eat your Drink
The Broad Fork
The Book of Greens
Eating on the Wild Side
Salad for President
The Power Greens Cookbook
In My Kitchen
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
Root to Leaf
On Vegetables
The Vegetables We Eat
Improving Your Soil
The Heirloom Life Gardener
Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow
Compost! Growing Gardens from Your Garbage
American Grown

Recommended Products:

Product Review: Sloggers Garden Boots