In the pumpkin world, there are over 40 different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color. While some are great for decorating and carving jack-o'-lanterns, that doesn’t necessarily mean they make the best ones for pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup. Though all pumpkins are edible, some are better for cooking depending on their flavor and consistency. Others are better used as table decorations, or even as an alternative soup bowl.
An excellent source of nutrition, pumpkins — providing dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and iron — have been used in cooking even before the arrival of European settlers. Early Native Americans roasted pumpkin strips over campfires, and cooked the sweet flesh by roasting, baking, parching, boiling, and drying, and they also ate the pumpkin seeds.
When the fall season comes around, we love to add pumpkin to everything from pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin bread. Not all pumpkin varieties make the best choice for particular recipes, but knowing which ones do will make more delicious pumpkin dishes.
There are varieties, like the Baby Bear, which have thinner seeds that taste delicious when roasted. Others, like the New England Pie, have a string-less, sugary flesh that is great to make a thick filling in pies. To help you determine which varieties you should use in your recipe, we’ll show you which ones are the best for cooking.
In addition to the name, this baby-sized pumpkin is just the right size for kids. Weighing only one to two pounds and with a deep orange color, the Baby Bear tastes great in pies and has thin seeds which are great for roasting. Bonus: Its miniature size and round shape allows for an alternative use as a bowl to serve soup, stews, and chili.
Just slightly bigger than the Baby Bear — at three to four pounds —and with the same deep orange color, the Baby Pam is sugary, starchy, and string-less, making it an ideal pumpkin to bake in pies. Its dry flesh also makes the pie denser.
Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter @haleywillrd.