Reader’s Question: Can you use “carving” pumpkins for cooking and dehydrating?

Dear Frugal Upstate,

I was looking at your How to Dehydrate Pumpkins post and was wondering–do you have to use pie pumpkins or can you use uncarved pumpkins from Halloween?



That’s a good question Britty!

The short answer is yes, you can use an uncarved Halloween pumpkin, but the flavor might not be very robust, and the texture might be sub par.  You see, “Pie/Culinary” pumpkins and “Ornamental/Carving” pumpkins have been bred for different reasons.


Pie pumpkins have been bread to be sweeter, have a more robust flavor, be less grainy in texture and to have a higher percentage of flesh relative to their size.  Ornamental pumpkins have been bred, well, to look pretty.  They have been chosen to have a large size, to be more round and regular in shape, and to have thinner walls (all the better for carving!).  Notice that “taste” isn’t anywhere in the requirements.

So, you can eat an ornamental pumpkin, but it wasn’t bred to taste good.  It wasn’t bred specifically to taste bad either, so it might be ok, but then again it might be very bland.

For the best quality food product you should use pie pumpkins.  On the other hand, I’m a big proponent of waste not want not–if you have un-carved pumpkins on hand, by all means try using them.  The most you’ll be out is a bit of time and effort.  And I think that of all methods of cooking, dehydration will concentrate the flavors and modify the texture the most.  Since you get to choose how much water to add for reconstituting, then you can ensure you get a nice thick product.

Wondering what to use your cooked or dehydrated pumpkin for?  Here are a few ideas!

Pumpkin Black Bean & Beef Tamale Pie

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Bread

Winter Squash (or Pumpkin) Bake

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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  1. says

    I don’t buy pumpkins for ornamental purposes, but I always buy a few carving pumpkins to help keep food costs down during the winter. Here’s a lengthy post I’ve written on the subject:

    Btw, the texture is somewhere between acorn and spaghetti squash, and the flavor is just more mild than a sugar pumpkin. Once puréed and strained, though, you can use it just like any pumpkin purée.

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