Jack O'Lantern Pumpkins vs. Sugar/Pie Pumpkins?

What happens to a pumpkin when not being carved? Chat about the growing, buying, cooking, and disposing of pumpkins.

Jack O'Lantern Pumpkins vs. Sugar/Pie Pumpkins?

Postby Black Mage » Sat Sep 23, 2006 11:04 pm

Fall is here, and with it has come the season for carving and cooking pumpkins. I am one of those picky people who can't call a pumpkin pie truly, 100% homemade if it contains canned pumpkin (or uses a pre-made crust, but that's beside the point). Hence, I like to make my own pumpkin pureé.

As you may know, a lot of recipes that call for pumpkin, specify a sugar or pie pumpkin. My problem is that most grocery stores and produce shop/stands in my area fail to properly label thier pumpkins. Often times I'll see a pile of large "jack o'lantern pumpkins" along side a bin of small un-named pumpkins. Most tell me that any small pumpkins is by default a sugar/pie pumpkins. However, I'm not fully convinced of this.

Isn't the sugar/pie pumpkin a separate species of pumpkin? My experience has told me that carving species pumpkins are generally wetter inside and very slippery. And that sugar/pie pumpkins, because they contain higher amounts of sugar, are dryer and stickier inside.

Does this hold true? Are the two varieties of pumpkins one in the same, or different species? Is there any other way to tell, aside from cutting it open?
Last edited by Black Mage on Sat Sep 23, 2006 11:14 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby Aylortay » Sat Sep 23, 2006 11:08 pm

Glad to know I'm not the only loony who won't bake pumpkin things with canned puree :D
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Postby Mister_JP » Sat Sep 23, 2006 11:47 pm

A. My wife makes pumpkin pies using the "sugar pie" pumpkins, and they indeed rock.

B. Most sugar pie pumpkins I have seen will have a sticker on them, which will indicate to the cashier what kind they are, as they tend to me more expensive. Obviously, your mileage may vary if the stickers are no stickers are present.

C. I carved 2 sugar pie pumpkins last year, both were VERY wet inside, much more so than regular "jack-o-lantern" pumpkins.
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Postby Aylortay » Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:44 am

I have used regular-sized pumpkins to make puree and I haven't noticed that much of a difference in taste to be honest. The smaller ones are probably a bit sweeter, but once you add the sugar and spices for certain recipes (like pie) then I'm not sure it matters that much. And the pumpkin I used was pretty large (failed carving, oof)

not to say there isn't something to the differences (I'm sure there is), but when all else fails, the larger ones are fine
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Postby Black Mage » Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:24 am

Aylortay wrote:Glad to know I'm not the only loony who won't bake pumpkin things with canned puree :D


Yeah, it sometimes annoys me when people go out, buy a frozen, preformed pie crust, a can of pumpkin pie filling (not even pumpkin pureé, but completely premade filling), throw the two together, pop it in the oven, and have the audacity to call it "homemade." Home assembled maybe, but definently not homemade. I mean, c'mon, you can at least mix the filling yourself.

Sorry, rant finished.

Mr. JP, I guess I'm just going to have to search around our local stores and otehr stands to see what I can find.
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Postby Aylortay » Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:40 am

I admit to using premade crusts but only because I haven't attempted to make my own yet. I'll be doing that this year :) I didn't have a pie plate before, but one of the managers in my department likes my pumpkin pie so much that he bought me a pie plate as a christmas preset to encourage me to make him more pies :lol:
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Postby Black Mage » Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:04 pm

I think that my general suspicions have been confirmed.

Today I was at the grocery store and saw that they had pie pumpkins (glee!). So I picked one up to use in dinner tonight (Mashed Pumpkin Potatoes, they are awesome, by the way). I compared it to another alleged pie pumpkin I bought from a near-by produce stand. On the outside they look identical, but the I opened it up (the one I just got).

Yep, just as I remember. The pie (sugar) pumpkin was definently stickier than than the other one, a bit dryer, too.

So either the lady who sold me the other pumpkin was not aware of the difference, or she was lying to me to make the sale. Either way, I think I'll stick with getting my sugar pumpkins from the store from now on.
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Postby Wedge » Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:54 am

Okay Mage so I used your pumpkin mashed potatoes tonight and the roommates loved them. Something i will have to make again. I just wish you could buy precut (not puree) pumpkin. It would make it so much easier!
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Postby Black Mage » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:13 am

Indeed they are some awesome potatoes. When I first told my dad and brothers that I was making pumpkin mashed potatoes with dinner, my dad actually insisted that I get a box of instant mashed potatoes, "just in case." I'm not sure why, but everyone always seems so suspicious of my cooking. :cry:
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Postby stormqueen29 » Sun Oct 08, 2006 4:47 pm

I have noticed that about 80-85% of the time true "pie" pumpkins are MUCH darker orange than just small pumpkins, and they tend to have glossier skins.

Now, that may just be here in MO, but I thought it worth mentioning.

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fresh pumpkin pie, etc

Postby elise » Sat Oct 14, 2006 6:36 pm

I, too, have NEVER used canned pumpkin for pies or pumpkin bread. What I usually do each year is cook up a pumpkin around Halloween and make several batches of pumpkin bread. I freeze the rest (of the pumpkin pulp) in 2 cup increments in ziplock freezer bags and have plenty to make pies at Thanksgiving. I've been doing this for years. It's hard to find a fresh pumpkin once Halloween is over. :D
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