Fall pumpkin picking. I am one of those people that think the only reason fall exists is to go to a local farm and choose a pumpkin. It’s a great family outing. You bring the kids, take a tractor out to the field, and spend a lot of time picking the right pumpkin. But, it’s not just a child’s activity. Many people see pumpkin picking as an annual event to all things fall. And, I am no exception.
So, the first thing you need to decide before selecting your pumpkin is what you are going to use it for. There are two primary uses. In addition to eating them the other is to use them to decorate. There are countless varieties of pumpkins and winter squashes that come in a multitude of bold colors, striped patterns, and varying shapes. And, they are readily available at farms, area farmer’s markets and grocery stores for the fall holiday season. But before you go, check out our quick guide to a few popular varieties for both eating and decorating.
Popular pumpkin varieties for eating
In the culinary world many view the pumpkin as a vegetable. That reasoning has merit. Pumpkins are mashed, roasted, and baked into savory dishes and sweet treats. But, because it has seeds, the pumpkin is a fruit. The best varieties for baking or eating are those that have a flavorful and savory sweet flesh. There’s nothing like fresh roasted pumpkin sprinkled with cinnamon. The aroma and the taste are addictive. Here are a few recommendations for your baking endeavors and eating adventures.
- Autumn Crown–This eating variety has a traditional uniform round shape and is pale orange in color. Its taste is similar to that of a butternut squash.
- Baby Bear–Though small size and weight this popular favorite packs a punch. Its uses are versatile. The Baby Bear is great for both decorating and eating. Pair it with a large jack-o-lantern, a yellow spaghetti squash and a white Lumina for a fall table centerpiece.
- Carnival–The Carnival variety is a squash and is a hybrid that combines the popular sweet dumpling and acorn squash varieties. The exterior is very colorful and has striped patterns of green, white, orange, and yellow. The Carnival is known for its flavor and texture. When cooked it has a melt in your mouth texture and a buttery, nutty, sweet flavor. YUM!
- Sugar Pie–This is the ultimate modern baking pumpkin. It’s sweet flesh, thin skin, and fine grain is the perfect combination for the All-American pumpkin pie. Try it in bars, cookies, snacking cakes and more! You can’t go wrong.
Popular pumpkin varieties for decorating
The brightly colored hues of pumpkins and squashes make for lovely fall indoor and outdoor ornamental decorations. Use colors of red orange, orange, yellow, green, and white to create beautiful centerpieces and tablescapes. A piece of reclaimed wood is a perfect base for a centerpiece. Combine with pumpkins, squashes and fall-colored candles to use on your Thanksgiving table. Or, design the ultimate front door entrance to your Travisso home using a variety of pumpkins and squashes with different colors and sizes. Check out the list below of popular decorating pumpkins including the infamous Jack-o-Lantern.
- Blaze–Yellow and orange striped and small in size, this new variety is currently available at HEB stores. It was the bright color of this variety that prompted me to buy one. The cost is $2.99. The Blaze’s unique striping and color is a perfect table decoration. (cover photo)
- Cotton Candy, Darling, and Orange Smoothies–All three of these varieties are the perfect pumpkin to paint because of their smooth exteriors and shallow ribbing. Orange Smoothies are also great to eat. Use non-toxic paint and then bake for Thanksgiving.
- Green Striped Cushaw–This hearty green and white striped squash last for months. Grab a few and arrange in a bowl for a great addition to your Thanksgiving table.
- Jack-O-Lantern–The most popular variety of them all is the Jack-o-Lantern. Its sole purpose for existing is to be carved. And, because of its hollow cavity it is also ideal for holding candles. Another variety great for carving is the Lumina. The Lumina has a white exterior and bright orange interior flesh that produces an eerie aura when a candle is place inside. To ensure your Jack-o-Lantern is fresh choose one with a solid green attached stem, consistent coloring throughout and firm and heavy for its size.
Local area pumpkin farms
Fall is here so get moving. Whether you want to eat your pumpkin or decorate with it, now’s the time to make the trek to an Austin area farm. Those in the Texas Hill Country include Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls, Love Creek Orchard and Barton Hills Farms. Another popular destination not too far from Austin is the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s a great destination for picking pumpkins and spending an afternoon with the family on a fall sunny afternoon.