Can You Eat Your Jack 'o Lantern Pumpkin?

In This Post
1) Learn about whether you can eat your Jack o’Lantern
2) Learn the difference between jack o lantern (“regular”) pumpkin and pie pumpkin
3) The secret to finding the best pie pumpkin

So like a lot of households during the month of October you go out and buy a big huge pumpkin, you turn it for the purpose of turning into a Jack o’Lantern. But maybe before you do that the thought cross your mind, hey can I eat this thing? Of course you can, you could eat anything, but really do you want to eat a monstrously huge pumpkin? My answer to that question is no. Here are my reasons.

1. First you need to know that there are tons of different varieties of orange pumpkins with names like Champion, Tom Fox, Rockstar, and Dill’s Atlantic Giant. All of these pumpkin varieties grow to huge sizes from 10 up to 40 pounds. People do not grow these pumpkins for flavor, they grow them for the size. Over the course of years, people have developed new varieties of pumpkins all for their appearance. Pumpkins that are sold as Jack ‘o Lanterns are grown just for that. These pumpkins tend to be very bland and watery in flavor and not sweet. They are also very stringy.

2. The idea of slicing up a 20 pound pumpkin to then bake off in the oven doesn’t sound like a fun time to me. A pumpkin of that size is difficult to deal with besides just carving it.

3. The amount of actual “meat” you get out of a Jack o’Lantern pumpkin is very little compared to their size.

You can actually eat them but I would not recommend it unless you are just roasting the seeds. Opt for a pumpkin labeled as a pie pumpkin in the store or market. These are smaller sized pumpkins grown specifically for using in recipes. They are sweet, their flesh isn’t stringy, and depending on size they yield a good amount of meat. Buy your pie pumpkins early as it seems they sell out in a lot of stores before Thanksgiving even hits.

Can I Eat My Jack o’Lantern Pumpkin After Halloween?
So even if what I said doesn’t stop you and you still want to try and eat it, can you do so after Halloween is over? Again not recommended in my book. You have already carved the thing, exposing it to potential bacteria and germs. If you had wax candles inside the wax may have melted into the pumpkin. If you really want to cook it you would need to do so within 2 hours of carving which is the standard time to get food into the fridge before bacteria start thriving. People are on tight budgets I understand that so if you want to carve, display for 2 hours for the trick or treaters, and then pop right into the oven for eating, then that is alright. I appreciate your frugalness!

What About Heirloom/Magical/Specialty Pumpkins?

A lot of stores now are selling many different kinds of pumpkins. Either as heirloom or heritage pumpkins. Or “magical pumpkins” or just specialty gourds. Those pumpkins are marketed for decoration. You can really have an excellent choice at a lot of different shapes and colors now a days. Do you want to eat any of those? There are so many different varieties it’s hard to tell unless you know the exact variety going in and most places don’t label what variety these pumpkins are. But I do have one variety that I have seen end up in numerous heirloom pumpkin bins that not only is a good for baking but it one of the best pie pumpkins around. That is the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (see picture below). It is called that because it looks sort of like a wheel of cheese. The pumpkin has flatten appearance has a tan colored skin that is deep orange on the inside. It’s ribs are not very deep.

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin

The Best Pumpkin for Pie

If you find this pumpkin in a bin of random pumpkins, you might want to snatch it up. It might be the best pumpkin for pies out there. It has a nice sweet flavor. Places are just selling it just for it’s appearance. If you can find one, you have yourself a gem. I am glad to see them now more readily available. I picked up two good sized ones just yesterday for $2.99/each. It was like finding a secret that not even the employees know about.

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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