When we think about pumpkins, the first image that comes to mind are those great big, orange gourds. But in reality, there are more and more options available, including white pumpkins. For those wanting a bit of excitement in their fall display, read on for more information about white pumpkins, how to plant them, how to grow them, and just what they taste like.
White pumpkins have always existed in nature but were mostly pushed off to the side in favor of the more traditional orange pumpkins. However, now that fall decorating has become so popular, everyone is looking for unique ideas, including white pumpkins.
White pumpkins: Around 15 years ago there became a push to have white pumpkins readily available, including having seeds for planting. There are many cultivars of white pumpkins and you can find small gourds, large gourds, and even wide ones. There are white pumpkins with deep ridges and some with smooth surfaces.
Basically, whatever type of design you are looking for, there is an option. If you are done with your decorations or are just growing your white pumpkins for sustenance, the good news is that most cultivars are edible.
Cooking white pumpkins is easy; simply slice them open, scoop out the seeds, and roast then meat. You can eat the pumpkin plain, puree it for muffins, or even use it in a scrumptious pie. And don’t forget that white pumpkin seeds make for a delicious snack.
What is a White Pumpkin?
Beginner gardeners may go to their local store and be amazed at the selection on offer but those with experience understand that most seeds didn’t happen naturally. Instead, agricultural experts have selected and cultivated different species over time.
While pumpkins have been around for thousands of years, white pumpkins are relatively new. There’s no doubt they have existed for a while, but probably more like an anomaly.
As fall decorations became more in vogue, there was a desire for more options, including the mystical white pumpkin. Around 2005 the white pumpkin trend really took off and now can be found in farmer’s markets and there are many seed varieties to choose from.
If you’re still unsure about white pumpkins, just think of them as pumpkin varieties. Even in the realm of orange pumpkins, there are many varieties to choose from, and white pumpkins are some of them.
Are White Pumpkins Edible?
Don’t be discouraged by their outwards appearance; white pumpkins are perfectly edible. In fact, they taste just like ordinary orange pumpkins.
The biggest difference is that white pumpkins are often smaller so there is less inside flesh available. This means more effort in scooping and carving to get enough pumpkin for your culinary purposes.
The one caveat is that there are a few varieties that are not edible, but this is more to do with size. Basically, if you have a really small pumpkin, regardless of the color, it is not meant to be eaten.
Health Benefits of White Pumpkins
If you’re searching for the health benefits of white pumpkins but can’t seem to find much information, don’t despair. Because they are relatively the same as orange pumpkins, you can assume their health benefits align with their more popular cousins.
In one cup of cooked pumpkin, you can find 3 grams of fiber. While this isn’t at much as some other fruits and vegetables, it’s more than you will find in processed food.
One cup of cooked pumpkin will provide you with almost half your daily recommended intake of vitamin K, which is pretty impressive! This vitamin is essential in helping your body build bones and can prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Vitamin K is also needed in the process of blood clotting.
One cup of cooked pumpkin will give you 20% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. This is incredibly impressive. Vitamin C is essential for the health of your muscles, blood vessels, and bones. Furthermore, vitamin C helps your body in the healing process, which is why it is recommended so much if you are sick.
One cup of cooked pumpkin will provide you with 16% of your recommended daily intake of potassium. Potassium has a lot of health benefits, including helping your nerves function and regulating your heartbeat. Furthermore, potassium helps your body process waste in your blood cells and counterbalances your sodium intake to better regulate your blood pressure.
With 10% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin E in one cup of cooked pumpkin, you are one step closer to protecting your body from harmful free radicals. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and protects your cells.
When you’re feeling a bit sluggish, try eating some white pumpkin as it has 8% of your recommended daily intake of iron. Iron is integral in the production of red blood cells which in turn move oxygen through your body
In one day, men should ingest about 56 grams of protein while women should ingest about 46 grams, although this is dependent on your weight. One cup of cooked pumpkin will provide 2 grams of protein. While this isn’t a large amount compared to a juicy piece of steak, it’s important to have protein from both animal and plant sources.
Risks of Eating too Much White Pumpkins
Too much vitamin K
While you would have to eat quite a lot of pumpkin for this to be an issue, too much vitamin K can lead to health issues. And, because there is so much vitamin K in pumpkin, it is a consideration. Too much vitamin K can lead to red blood cells rupturing as well as jaundice.
Bloating and gas
Fiber is essential to keep things moving in your body but sometimes too much fiber can make you feel rather bloated. Worse, it can give you gas which can be quite embarrassing.
While there are those who love eating pumpkin on their own, most of us love using it in muffins, loaves, and especially pie. Pumpkin may be healthy on its own, but when mixed with butter and sugar, the result can be unintentional weight gain. Be sure to keep the baked goods to a minimum and instead enjoy pumpkin as a simple side.
May cause hypoglycemia
Most of us are concerned about controlling our blood sugar levels, and white pumpkins are a great way to do so. However, the opposite should also be a concern, which is very low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Because pumpkins have low sugar content, we may inadvertently eat too much, causing our blood sugar to drop. The result can be headaches, dizziness, and a rapid heartbeat.
May cause hypotension
Again, most people are so worried about the opposite of hypotension, hypertension, which is high blood pressure, that we forget about the opposite end of the spectrum. Pumpkin is great at keeping your blood pressure in check but too much and it may make you relax your blood vessels too much. Symptoms of hypotension include dizziness, fatigue, and blurry vision.
White Pumpkin Cultivars
- Silver Moon – Unlike other pumpkins that are tall or fat, Silver Moon pumpkins have a squat appearance. They are medium to large in size and are a great variety to grow because they are resistant to powdery mildew.
- Casper – Named after the friendly ghost, Casper pumpkins have a whitish green hue to them. They are medium in size but you need to be patient with them as it takes over 150 days for them to grow in a garden.
- Valenciano – The best of everything, Valenciano pumpkins have a lot going for them. They are smoother in texture than others, with just a slight ridge design. This makes them ideal if you want to paint or draw on their outsides.
- Baby Boo – While most white pumpkin cultivars are edible, Baby Boos are not. They are, however, incredibly adorable. Small in size, just bigger than a human fist, they are perfect for table arrangements, kids craft projects, or decorations around the house.
- Hooligan – If you like a bit of color with your white pumpkins, you might want to try these out. Small in size, just bigger than a human fist, they are white with green and orange speckles.
- Lumina – For those that want to light up their front porch, the Lumina cultivar is a great idea. They are medium in size, and grow to be 10 to 15 pounds. Inside you’ll find an orange-colored flesh and they are large enough to be scooped out like a traditional jack-o-lantern.
- Full Moon – No, the moon didn’t drop out of the sky, it’s just a very large white pumpkin. The Full Moon cultivar is quite large, and can even grow to be over 80 pounds. Expect a lot of fresh pumpkin meat inside although if it is in the sun for too long at the end of its growing period, it can lose its lush white coloring.
How to Plant White Pumpkins
Pumpkins need quite a bit of time to grow, so you want to plant your pumpkins outside around May or June. They love warm weather, especially the seeds, so be sure the outside temperature is at least 70 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night.
Another consideration is the temperature of your soil. To help the seeds grow, create large mounds in your garden. Then, plant three to four seeds in each mound.
Not only will the soil mounds insulate your pumpkin seeds but they will protect them from downpours if you live in a wetter climate.
Unlike other plants, you don’t have to start your seeds indoors. In fact, it’s not recommended at all as pumpkin seeds don’t transfer very well. Instead, start them right in your garden.
How to Grow White Pumpkins
If you have enough room in your garden, you can let all the seeds grow. If not, you can choose to pinch out the smaller plants if all your seeds took.
Pumpkins need a lot of room for their vines to grow. However, the vines don’t need nutritious places to grow. Therefore, as long as your soil is good for your pumpkin roots, your vines can grow on bare grass, dirt, and even over sidewalks.
Pumpkins need a lot of warmth and sunlight but white pumpkins are a bit more finicky. They actually may need shade to keep that lush white color. If you are having a very hot, sunny summer, consider installing a screen or planting taller plants, like corn, near your pumpkin patch.
You will have to water your pumpkins frequently in the summer if there is no rain. Pumpkins prefer moist but well-drained soil. Adding bark mulch around the roots can help with this effect.
Furthermore, you want to water the root area and not the pumpkin leaves. Too much water on the leaves can lead to mildew and rot.
Pumpkins need quite a bit of nutrient to grow so large. Make sure you start your soil with organic matter such as compost. Then, along the way add an all-purpose fertilizer to keep your pumpkins growing.
In order for pumpkin plants to actually produce their pumpkins, you need the help of pollinators. Plant flowers such as sunflowers around your pumpkin patch. This will attract bees and butterflies and help spread the important nectar around.
Finally, you want to pay attention to the flatness of your soil. Bumpy dirt can actually cause pumpkins to mold around it, leaving indentations on the skin.
Another consideration is turning your pumpkins. This will give them that lovely, round shape, and prevent and bruising or discoloration. You just want to be careful when you move your pumpkins as they could inadvertently break off from the vine.
Common Pests and Diseases
As with anything you plant, there can always be trouble from pests and diseases. White pumpkins have a few enemies to be aware of.
Small in size and either green or white in color, aphids are a menace to any garden. They love pumpkin leaves and blossoms, and if there are no blossoms, the pumpkins can’t grow.
Water will get rid of aphids as will ladybugs. You can purchase ladybugs for your garden to help with any aphid problem.
There are many different types of beetles and you want to be on the lookout for squash bugs or cucumber beetles. They aren’t very tiny so you should be able to pick them off.
When doing so, have a bowl of soapy water and bleach. Place the beetles in this mixture for a quick and humane end.
If you’re not into killing off bugs, you can try to plant sunflowers next to your white pumpkins. They will distract the beetles, allowing your pumpkins to grow and flourish.
Even though you are growing white pumpkins, your leaves should be green. Look for white dusting on your leaves. If not dealt with, your leaves can wilt and your pumpkins won’t get the necessary nutrients.
Fungicide is readily available at all gardening stores so you can spray your pumpkins with it. Just be aware as powdery mildew spreads through the air so it can contaminate other plants in your garden.
If you have powdery mildew, be sure to work on your soil so it doesn’t come back the following year.
How to Harvest White Pumpkins
Your white pumpkins will be ready in September or October, just in time for the fall season. While orange pumpkins have a bit more wriggle room, you don’t want to leave your white pumpkins on the vine for too long, otherwise, they won’t be white anymore.
While you should check your seed package to see how long your variety takes to grow, there are a few physical characteristics that will alert you if your white pumpkins are ready to harvest.
The leaves on the vine will start to dry out as more nutrients are passed on to the pumpkin.
You can also try the knocking test. Gently knock on the outside of your pumpkin and if it makes a hollow sound, it’s a good indicator it is ready to harvest.
One other sign your white pumpkins are ready is to check the skin resistance. Place your fingernail into the skin of your white pumpkin and if the skin is intact, it means your pumpkin is ready.
Once you have determined your pumpkin is ready for harvest, it’s time to remove it from the vine. One of the best parts of pumpkins as decorations is their stem so you want to use a knife instead of pulling on the pumpkin. Otherwise, you could break off the stem completely.
After you pick your white pumpkins, you need to decide how you want to use them. If they are meant for decoration, you can put them on your front porch right away.
If you want to carve them for Halloween, wait until a day or two before the big night; otherwise, they will start to rot.
For those that want to cook their pumpkin, you may want to store your gourds before you need them. Then can be placed in a cool, dark area for up to a few months.
Do white pumpkins taste different?
While there may be subtle differences between pumpkin cultivars, white pumpkins taste relatively similar to orange pumpkins.
You can expect that same sweet taste and meaty texture. If you want slightly sweeter pumpkins, go for the Casper cultivar. It’s actually so sweet you may want to alter the amount of sugar used in some recipes.
Just remember that smaller varieties, such as the Baby Boo cultivar are not edible. Generally, smaller pumpkins, no matter the color, simply don’t have enough meat on them to make them edible.
Common Ways to Cook White Pumpkins
- Roasted Pumpkin – For a simple side dish, roasting white pumpkins is ideal. Slice your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Then, brush a bit of olive oil on the outside so you can lock in moisture. You can sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top and use a fork to prick the skin so juices can escape. Place both halves flesh-side up on a pan and roast in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pumpkin Puree – You can take your roasted pumpkin and eat it, or you can puree it for baking purposes. To do so, scoop the roasted pumpkin from its shell. Place everything in a blender or food processor and mix until creamy. If it is too thick, you can add a little bit of water.
- Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds are a nutritious and easy snack, so be sure to use them and not waste them. Separate the seeds from the flesh and put them in a bowl. Rinse them well and then place them on a towel to dry. Spread your seeds out on a baking tray and add your seasoning, which can include salt, garlic, pepper, or paprika. Place the tray in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, being sure to toss them every 5 minutes.
Other Uses of White Pumpkins
- Art projects – Kids love drawing on just about anything, including things they shouldn’t. Why not give them some markers and a white pumpkin? Unlike orange pumpkins, you can use every shade of color and create a pretty cool art project.
- Name tags – Thanksgiving can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of people coming over for dinner. Use small varieties of white pumpkins to write people’s names on and have a cute but functional table décor.
- Fall festive patterns – For those that have long driveways, why not gather up some white and orange pumpkins? You can alternate the colors and have a truly unique front yard.
White pumpkins are a bold way to make a statement this fall. They work great as decorative items and are also tasty and nutritious when eaten. If you’re still a bit nervous about using white pumpkins, just remember that they can be treated almost the same as orange pumpkins.