If orange is the new black, then is white the new orange? It might be for pumpkins! White pumpkins used to be a rare find, but now you can see them just about anywhere in the fall. These pumpkins can be a bit more expensive to purchase from the store, but luckily, they are incredibly easy to grow from seed.
If you’ve ever seen one of these cute little squashes, you may have asked yourself, are white pumpkins edible? The short answer – yes! It’s all a matter of knowing what to do with them.
Are White Pumpkins Edible?
Yes, white pumpkins are edible.
Even though white pumpkins may look quite a bit different from the typical orange Jack-o-Lantern, they are actually quite similar. White pumpkins taste almost exactly like their orange counterparts, and they are also grown in exactly the same manner.
Although they don’t typically grow as large, you can easily reap all the culinary and nutritional benefits from white pumpkins just as you would orange ones. There are some cultivars of whit pumpkins that grow equally as large as the orange ones, too!
Health Benefits of White Pumpkins
Because they are a niche food item, white pumpkins do not have official nutritional facts published by the USDA. However, since white pumpkins are essentially the same as orange ones, you can assume that the nutritional value of these tasty treats will be roughly the same as their orange cousins.
Whit Pumpkins have a relatively low calorie count, coming in at just 44 calories per cup. For this cup, you will receive two grams of protein, three grams of fiber, eleven grams of carbohydrates, and five grams of sugar. Pumpkins are also high in the following nutrients:
Unfortunately, some studies have suggested that white pumpkins contain fewer vitamins than orange pumpkins, probably because of their pale color. There is less carotenoid synthesis so white pumpkins tend to have less vitamin A. Most other vitamins are about the same.
What is a White Pumpkin?
Pumpkins, also referred to as a variety of winter squash, have been around for what seems like forever. Pumpkin seeds were first discovered in Mexico that dated back to 7000 B.C., making the pumpkin one of the continent’s original vegetables.
White pumpkins, however, have a more recent history. They were not bred deliberately until the early 2000s, when they grew in popularity for their ornamental value. Before that, they would show up as a random accidental shade at the local farmers market.
Once extremely rare, white pumpkins were bred as albino breeds from pumpkin growers and scientists. While they look quite different from orange pumpkins, they are all cultivars of the squash plants and they are not botanically considered different plants. They are instead just an albino variant of the same plant, Cucurbita pepo.
Common White Pumpkin Cultivars
There are many types of white pumpkins you can grow, purchase, or consume. Here are some of the most popular types for backyard gardeners:
- Baby Boo: This pumpkin grows to less than a pound and usually only reaches about two to three inches in diameter. It is used mostly for ornamental purposes due to its size, but could also be used for cooking if so desired. This pumpkin has a flat top and is best described as “cute.” They produce a ton of seed, usually about 400 seeds per pound!
- Casper: Casper pumpkins are another popular choice. They are smooth, without the usual ribbing that makes it challenging to carve a pumpkin. They can be a bit too sweet for baking, so you can actually use less sugar to compensate. These take a long time to develop – usually around 155 days.
- Cotton Candy: Cotton Candy is a slightly larger white pumpkin, growing up to eight to ten inches in diameter and reaching an average weight of ten pounds. This pumpkin is round with a strong, sturdy stem.
- Crystal Star: Crystal Star pumpkins are unique in that they do not turn yellow with age. They grow to around 12 inches in diameter and 35 pounds, making them a good choice for carving and cooking.
- Full Moon: Full Moon pumpkins are round and large, reaching up to 90 lbs in size! Also known as giant ghost pumpkins, they can grow up to three feet tall.
- Hooligan: Hooligan pumpkins are another small ornamental variety of white pumpkins. These grow to around two or three inches in diameter, rarely reaching over a pound or two in weight. These can have some yellow or green coloration to them, too.
- Lumina: Lumina pumpkins offer a good compromise between the massive Full Moon pumpkin and the tiny ornamental varieties. This pumpkin grows to around ten inches in diameter and reaches about fifteen pounds. It is a flat and round pumpkin, and excellent for eating. It is similar to Cotton Candy except it is flat instead of spherical.
- Polar Bear: This pumpkin is large, growing up to 65 lbs! It needs to be stored in the sun after harvesting to give it a pure white appearance.
- Silver Moon: Silver Moon pumpkins reach around nine inches in diameter and twelve pounds in weight. They are also flat and round. These cultivars are unique and desirable because they are resistant to mosaic virus and powdery mildew.
- Snowball: Snowball is a less common cultivar of the white pumpkin, but it can still be found in great supply. This pumpkin is small, usually about the size of your hand, can produce a ton of seeds in a tiny little two-pound package.
- Valenciano: Valenciano pumpkins have pronounced ribs, making them a unique ornamental choice. They reach about eight to ten lbs and eight to ten inches in diameter. These pumpkins take around 110 days to mature.
- White Ghost: The White Ghost is a cute little pumpkin that produces thick flesh. It has an irregular shape and unusual taste that makes it difficult to carve or cook with, but it’s a great choice for painting or decorating your tabletop with.
How to Grow White Pumpkins
You will grow a white pumpkin in exactly the same manner as you would grow an orange one. These should be planted after the risk of frost has passed. Most varieties take about 90 days to grow, so count back based on your approximate first date of frost so that you don’t have to worry about their growth being stunted by too-early cold weather.
White pumpkins can even be grown in giant form, just as you would with orange pumpkins. There are multiple varieties of giant white pumpkins seeds you can purchase, but usually, they aren’t able to set the same kinds of records as their orange relatives. The largest white pumpkins will be grown from Full Moon seeds.
When you are growing white pumpkins, you should remember that pumpkin plants don’t always transplant well. Therefore, you should avoid starting your seeds indoors and instead plant yours needs when temperatures stay above 70 degrees during the day.
Select a planting site that has well-draining soil with good water retention. While pumpkins don’t like to be waterlogged, they also don’t like drying out. Some cultivars of whit pumpkins need lots of shade to maintain their white hues. Keep your soil level and smooth to give your pumpkins a smooth round shape, and remember to plant in a mound to prevent water-logging.
White pumpkins like moderate amounts of sun – usually less than their orange cousins. Try to provide them with about eight hours of sun per day, and add plenty of organic fertilizer to keep your pumpkins plump.
How to Harvest White Pumpkins
White pumpkins should be picked as soon as they ripen. Like orange pumpkins, the longer they are allowed to remain on the vine, the higher the likelihood that they will become yellow or otherwise disclosed. Keep track of how long it takes for your selected variety of pumpkin to mature. You don’t want to leave the fruits out too long, as this can cause damage.
If you’re unsure of whether your white pumpkins are ready to be harvested, consider conducting this quick test. Flick the pumpkin with your finger and listen for a hollow sign. See whether your fingernail can be pressed into the skin. If it doesn’t budge, it’s ripe.
If you plan on using pumpkins for cooking, inspect them carefully for outward damages. While the skin does not need to be exceptionally shiny – it’s okay if it looks a little dull – you should avoid coking with pumpkins that have large soft spots, rotted areas, or bruises. Keep in mind that pumpkins can last for several months at a cool room temperature and have a remarkably long shelf life.
How to Cook with White Pumpkins
White pumpkins can be substituted for orange pumpkins in most recipes, regardless of whether you are baking a whit pumpkin pie or simmering a pumpkin soup. While you can use any variety of white pumpkin for cooking or baking, the best and sweetest variety is the Lumina.
You can also cook white pumpkin seeds. These can be roasted in the oven, tossed in a skillet, or coated with sugar for a delectable treat. White pumpkins can also be frozen by baking, scooping, and pureeing it first. Interestingly, the inside of a white pumpkin is not white – it is orange. Therefore, when you are using it for cooking or baking it will look exactly the same as an orange pumpkin.
Keep in mind that you should avoid eating white pumpkins that have already been carved or decorated. If you do not refrigerate the pumpkin innards as soon as you cut open the pumpkin, it presents the risk for fungal growth and bacterial development.
The best pumpkins for baking and cooking aren’t usually the ones that grow to massive sizes. Although these are certainly edible, they tend to be quite stringy, watery, and bland. Instead, you will want to select those that will produce sweeter, smoother flesh. Look specifically for pumpkins that are labeled as pie or sugar pumpkins, and try to select those that weigh no more than eight pounds.
You can cook white pumpkins just as you would practically any other kind of hard winter squash. You can roast it, steam it, puree it, or stir fry it.
What Else Can You Do with White Pumpkins?
Once rare, white pumpkins are now commonly found in pumpkin patches all over the country. These unique white orbs are all the rage when it comes to fall decorating, offering a crisp appearance that makes them easy to decorate and use for ornamental purposes.
These pumpkins are actually quite good for carving, too. Because their skin is not as thick as that found on an orange pumpkin, you will be able to get a steadier, more even cut. They are also great for painting and stenciling.
While it’s not recommended that you feed certain animals, like dogs, white pumpkins due to the choking hazard and potential risk for digestive upset, they can be fed to some types of livestock. Pigs and chickens, for example, will enjoy crunching down on the tasty orange flesh of your ghost pumpkins.
If you aren’t interested in growing your own white pumpkins, keep in mind that you can purchase them at major grocery stores and, often, at smaller chains, too. They usually are not sold as food but instead as decorative items in the fall. You can also head to your local nursery or farmer, which is where you are most likely to find the larger varieties of these pale vegetables.
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