Although they were once rare commodities in most parts of the United States, white pumpkins are seeing a huge surge in popularity. They are fun to decorate with, lending your home a festive fall feel that works well with any style of decorating.
So that leads to the question of white pumpkins: are they edible? Fortunately, white pumpkins are edible. You can substitute white pumpkin for orange pumpkin in most recipes, regardless of whether you want those recipes to be sweet or savory. In fact, the soft, sweet texture and taste of many white pumpkin varieties make them perfect for baking.
If you’re curious about white pumpkins, including how you can cook and decorate with them (or perhaps what exactly they even are!), you have come to the right place.
What Are White Pumpkins?
Technically a variety of winter squash, white pumpkins have been around for practically forever. In fact, some of the first pumpkin seeds were discovered in 7000 B.C., making the pumpkin one of the world’s oldest (and most whimsical!) vegetables.
White pumpkins, however, didn’t really come on the scene until the early part of the 21st century, viewed more of an accident in genetics rather than a popular sales item until that point.
White pumpkins are essentially the same thing as the orange pumpkins you’ll find dotting country roadsides in the fall. Though once a novelty item in most parts of the United States, white pumpkins are making a comeback, offering an intriguing white glow that lends itself well to chic fall decorating.
White pumpkins are pale pumpkins that have been bred by scientists and pumpkin growers alike. One of the first white pumpkins ever produced was by a University of New Hampshire professor named Brent Loy, who successfully grew a white pumpkin he called Moonshine.
Also known as albino pumpkins, white pumpkins can be referred to and sold under many names, including ghost pumpkin, and snowball pumpkins. Some common varieties of these pumpkins include Snowball, Cotton Candy, Baby Boo, Lumina, and Casper.
White pumpkins are grown in exactly the same way as orange pumpkins. They must be planted once the soil has warmed and the danger of frost has passed. They take a long time to grow, too – usually, around 90 days, although this can vary depending on the size and cultivar of your pumpkin as well as your growing conditions.
As with orange pumpkins, it’s important that you harvest your white pumpkins as soon as they ripen – otherwise, they could discolor on the vine. Make sure you grow them in full-sunlight, ideally in a planting site that has well-draining soil and good water retention.
It’s important that you read the instructions on your seed packets before you plant. While most like to be grown in the same conditions as orange pumpkins, there are some that need to be grown in the shade. Otherwise, their white coloration will easily fade.
Most white pumpkins remain a bit on the smaller side, but there are several varieties of giant white pumpkins you can grow, too. The largest ever white pumpkin tipped the scales at 2,528 lbs. For the best chances at a massive pumpkin, you’ll want to grow Full Moon pumpkins, which can easily weigh up to 90 lbs!
Are White Pumpkins Edible?
As mentioned earlier in the article, yes! White pumpkins are absolutely edible. You can substitute white pumpkin for orange pumpkin in most recipes, as all the flesh inside a whit pumpkin is edible.
You can make a pie or whip up a soup. You can even hollow out a white pumpkin, and use it as a unique serving tureen!
White pumpkin seeds, like orange pumpkin seeds, can also be eaten. Just toss them in a skillet or roast them in an oven.
As with other kinds of pumpkins, you can also freeze and puree white pumpkin. The steps you will take to do so are exactly the same as those that you would follow if you were working with pumpkins of any other colors.
There are just as many nutritional and culinary benefits from eating white pumpkins as there are from eating orange pumpkins, too. They have a low calorie count, coming in at fewer than 50 calories per cup.
You’ll get a whopping three grams of fiber, eleven garms of carbohydrates, and two grams of protein for this serving size. Although whtie pumpkins are somewhat high in sugar – five grams – that’s no different than if you were to eat an orange pumpkin.
White pumpkins are also high in iron, manganese, calcium, selenium, zinc, and potassium, and while some studies suggest that white pumpkins have fewer vitamins than orange pumpkins (due to their pale coloration), there hasn’t been enough research to solidly back this up.
Either way, eating a white pumpkin is a delicious and healthy choice – so be sure to include some in your favorite pumpkin recipe regardless!
What Kinds of White Pumpkins Are Best For Eating?
Most white pumpkins will taste more or less the same, but generally, those that are smaller and more compact will have sweeter, more pronounced flavors.
If you’re looking for white pumpkins to snack on their seeds, you’ll want to choose the Baby Boo cultivar. This kind fo white pumpkin grows to just one pound or so, reaching a few inches in diameter. With a flat top, this pumpkin produces about 400 seeds per pound, making it a good choice for roasted pumpkin seeds.
Another cultivar of white pumpkin that is good for seeds is Snowball. This cultivar isn’t quite as common as some of the other more popular white pumpkin types, so you may have to do some digging in order to round up the seeds you need. That said, you’ll get a ton of seeds from one pumpkin.
Casper pumpkins are popular options if you like to bake. They tend to be a bit sweeter than other kinds of pumpkins (including other orange pumpkins), so you can use a bit less sugar if you want to add a sugary taste to your favorite pie recipe. They take a long time to grow, up to 150 or 160 days, so you’ll want to give yourself more time at the onset of the growing season.
Crystal Star is a larger white pumpkin, sometimes reaching an excess of 30 lbs! This pumpkin’s large size makes it ideal for carving, so I would recommend scooping out the insides and saving them for your favorite soup recipe before you carve up your Jack-o-lantern.
Lumina is another solid choice. This pumpkin is also quite large reaching about fifteen pounds, and has a sweet taste and a sturdy, strong stem.
Some other kinds of white pumpkins that are good for eating include Valenciano, Silver Moon, Hooligan, and Polar Bear.
Virtually any kind of pumpkin can serve as a “kitchen” pumpkin, but I’d recommend steering clear of White Ghost. White Ghost has a gorgeous appearance with its irregular shape, but it has a bit of an off taste that can make it tough to cook with. It can also be a bit of a challenge to carve.
What Else Can You Do With a White Pumpkin?
White pumpkins aren’t just great for eating – they’re also superb for decorating. Many people use them in gourd and pumpkin displays at their homes and businesses, often used in centerpieces too. It doesn’t take much to dress up a white pumpkin – they tend to attract all of the attention on their own.
You can also add other features to your white pumpkins, though, if you so desire. Some people tie on ribbons, or paint their white pumpkins, ornating them with monograms or other festive decor to spruce up their autumn decorations and add a touch of ambience. They’re great for painting and stencilling, since they offer more or less a blank slate.
Because the skin on a white pumpkin is thinner than that of an orange pumpkin, it’s also a great choice for carving. Although white pumpkins are, disappointingly, not white on the inside, they still offer a great blank canvas for your Halloween jack-o-lantern.
Harvesting and Cooking With White Pumpkins
Try to pick your white pumpkins as soon as they ripen – leave them on the vine, and they are more likely to become faded or discolored. They could rot or become misshapen, too, which would be unfortunate after all that time you’ve spent waiting for them to ripen up!
Not sure whether your pumpkins are ready to harvest? Flick one with your finger and listen closely. If you’ve ever done this test with watermelon, it’s the same for pumpkins – you’re waiting for a hollow sound.
You can also try to penetrate the skin with your fingernail. If the skin doesn’t flex or indent, your pumpkin is ripe, and ready to be picked.
Inspect your pumpkin for outward damages like bruises, cuts, and dents. If you are going to use your pumpkin for cooking right away, these damages aren’t hugely problematic. You will be cutting up the pumpkin before too long anyway!
However, if you want to keep your white pumpkins in storage so that you can use them later, you’ll want to avoid cooking with pumpkins that have huge bruises, rotten spots, or soft areas. As long as your white pumpkin is free from blemishes, though, you can store it for several months at a cool temperature.
Just make sure you cure your pumpkins before you put them into storage. To do this, harvest the pumpkin from the vine by snapping it cleanly from the vine. Leave a bit of the stem intact.
Let your white pumpkins sit in a warm, yet not too hot, location for a few days to weeks, ideally one with lots of good air circulation. You may want to roll or rotate the pumpkins every so often to make sure all sides receive adequate airflow.
Once your pumpkins have cured, you can put them into storage – or you can cook with them right away! As I mentioned before, you can use white pumpkins as a substitute for orange pumpkins in just about any recipe.
The insides of your white pumpkin will look just like the insides of your orange pumpkin. You won’t be able to tell the difference! Just avoid eating pumpkins that have already been used for decorations (with paints and stencils) or for carving.
You need to refrigerate pumpkin innards as soon as the pumpkin is cut open or you run the risk of bacterial or fungal contamination. The dyes and inks used to color or decorate white pumpkins can also make you sick, so skip these if you know you plan to eat your pumpkin later on.
Best White Pumpkin Recipes
Still looking for inspiration? Here are some of my favorite white pumpkin recipes – give them a try!
Stuffed Baby Pumpkins
If you really want to showcase your adorable white pumpkins, this is, without a doubt, the best recipe you can try. You’ll remove the innards of your white pumpkins and cook them up with savory ingredients like bread crumbs, pine nuts, and baby kale – then add all of the ingredients back to the miniature white pumpkins!
Roasted White Pumpkin Soup
There’s nothing to warm you up on a chilly fall night quite like a pumpkin soup – this roasted white pumpkin soup gets its white color more from the heavy cream than the pumpkins, but you get the idea. Here is the recipe.
A simple roasted pumpkin recipe is all you need for healthy, enjoyable snacking. Here are the instructions on how to create this savory dish.
White Pumpkin and Coconut Curry
This exotic recipe has a ton of spicy yet sweet flavors to liven up your fall dinner table. Here is the full recipe so you can give it a try.
It’s a great idea to have a basic pumpkin puree recipe on hand so that you have it for all kinds of recipes that call for it, including baby food and pumpkin pie. Here’s a great one you can check out.
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie
No pumpkin recipe list would be complete without a recipe for pumpkin pie! This recipe technically calls for butternut squash, but you can swap out your favorite kind of pumpkin (orange or white!) to make it your own. Here are the details.