Cooking Pumpkins – Which Pumpkin is Best for Baby Food or Pies?

Jack-o-Lantern is not good for eatingSugar or Pie Pumpkins are the best for eating

Did you know that pumpkins are a type of squash in the Cucurbita family along with butternut, acorn and my favorite, Hubbard squash?  The pumpkin season is really kicking into high gear around New England.  From the end of September right on through to the end of December, pumpkins play a large role in mealtime and holiday traditions.  It’s a wonderful thing to know that babies are able to eat pumpkin as early as 6-7 months of age.   I am sure you have guessed, I included quite a few recipes in the baby food book that use pumpkin.  Pumpkin is nutrient rich and that makes it a perfect food for babies and kids of all ages.

Now the pumpkins that we use for carving into Jack-o-Lanterns at Halloween are also in the Cucurbita family however, these larger more tough and fibrous pumpkins are not good for eating.  Here’s how to tell the difference between a tasty and wonderfully edible pie or sugar pumpkin and a pumpkin that is great for carving or using to decorate during the Fall.

Pie or Sugar Pumpkins:  These little pumpkins are much smaller in size than the jack-o-lantern pumpkins we use for carving and decorating.  The shell of a pie pumpkin is typically smoother as well.  These pie or sugar pumpkins, sometimes called baking pumpkins, also tend to be a more dull orange color although,  I have seen a few that are a deep almost brown orange color.  A sugar pumpkin should weigh no more than 5 pounds.

The next time you are at the grocery store or at a local farm that is selling pumpkins and squash, compare the different types and sizes.  It will be extremely easy to pick out a sugar pumpkin,  unless you accidentally pick up a decorative gourd.