There is hardly any decoration more associated with the onset of fall, and Halloween in particular, than the jack-o-lantern.
Sometimes spooky, sometimes cheerful, and occasionally highly artistic there is just something about carving up a pumpkin that always gets you in the right spirit for the season.
But, there is something of a trend when it comes to pumpkins as decorations that is emerging, that of the popular white pumpkin.
Available in a surprising number of cultivars, these pale and pretty squashes are now commonly seen in grocery stores and elsewhere where the traditional orange pumpkins are typically sold.
But here’s what we need to know: can you carve white pumpkins like orange pumpkins?
Yes, white pumpkins can be carved just the same as orange pumpkins. Many white pumpkin cultivars have thinner skin that makes them even easier to carve, too.
If you want a white pumpkin set amid all of your orange ones for variety, or if you just prefer a ghostly look, a white pumpkin could make for the perfect jack-o-lantern.
Learn everything you need to know about white pumpkins and carving them in this article.
How are White Pumpkins Different from Orange Pumpkins?
Noted for their various off-white, pale and alabaster hues, white pumpkins differ primarily from our usually orange pumpkins due to the absence of carotenoids.
Carotenoids are lipids found in plants; they protect the plant’s cells from the harm by environmental elements such as UV rays.
It’s carotenoids that lend plants and produce their distinctive colors by capturing certain light frequencies.
Many types of fruits and vegetables, including pumpkins, get their vibrant colors like orange, yellow and red directly from the presence of carotenoids. Thus, without these molecules, white pumpkins appear white or nearly-white.
For the most part, white pumpkins have so few carotenoids as to make them appear some tone of white on the outside.
Nevertheless many cultivars still produce sufficient amounts of carotenoids to color the interior flesh the usual orange color, or else a yellow or pale golden color.
To summarize, white pumpkins appear white due to the absence of carotenoids, but otherwise are basically identical in use to other equivalent kinds or orange pumpkins, and that includes carving.
Do White Pumpkins Still Have Guts and Seeds?
Yes, they do. Despite the lack of orange color, white pumpkins are still fleshy on the inside and have all the same guts, seeds and stringy bits that are found in any other pumpkin- type differences notwithstanding!
Like other pumpkins, white pumpkins might have more or less flesh and “guts” inside, more or less seeds, or even have thicker skin.
Accordingly, choosing a just-right cultivar can help ensure you’ll have an easy time of carving the thing, and that it will last. More on that in a minute…
Are White Pumpkins Easy to Carve?
Yes, or rather they are usually as easy to carve as any other pumpkin. Carving a pumpkin can be easy or hard, depending on the size and shape of the pumpkin, and its type, as well as the tools available to you.
The bigger and rounder the pumpkin, the easier it is to carve due to its greater surface area compared to its internal volume.
However, if your pumpkin has gnarled, thick skin or an irregular shape it will probably be harder to carve.
How Can I Make Carving My Pumpkin Easier?
Your tools also play a big part in how hard carving a pumpkin will be: I’ve watched plenty of folks struggle to carve even a simple design into a pumpkin using flimsy, dull knives hardly fit for cutting butter.
A sharp knife with a stout handle will make your work easier and safer no matter what kind of pumpkin you are starting with.
Knives are indeed typically used for carving pumpkins, but other tools such as saws, linoleum cutters, drills, and even specialized, fancy tools designed specifically for carving pumpkins make it much easier.
Finally, your own skill level matters, as you’d expect. If you’re just starting out with pumpkin carving and don’t have much practice, expect to struggle and fumble your way through it a few times.
Practice does, indeed, make perfect when pumpkin carving!
Make Sure You Get a White Pumpkin Cultivar Suitable for Carving
I mentioned it above briefly, but it is worth expanding on: the type or cultivar of pumpkin you buy will make a difference in the finished product and the ease of the work you are putting in to your jack-o-lantern.
Lumina, Full Moon, Silver Moon and Hooligans could all be good choices for white pumpkin carving, but so can others.
Take a little time and do the research based on what’s available in your area. A few extra minutes might make all the difference in your pumpkin carving experience.
How Can You Keep a Carved White Pumpkin Fresh?
It’s just a sad fact of life that your carved pumpkin won’t last forever. Pumpkins are vegetables, and vegetables rot, especially after having been cut open. Your work will vanish, and the smell is never pleasant!
But there are steps you can take to get the very longest life possible out of your new, white jack-o-lantern.
Taking proper care of it can help keep it looking vibrant and new for only a few minutes daily.
Try the following:
- For the longest life, choose a pumpkin with a firm, tough stem. Soft stems indicate early rotting.
- Keep the exposed pumpkin flesh moist and clean by wiping it down with a lightly damp cloth every day.
- To slow rotting of the vulnerable insides, cover the inside of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly. This will slow the decomposition process by blocking air from reaching the flesh.
- Store your carved pumpkins in cool areas away from direct sunlight. Tough, I know, considering they are usually placed outside, but giving them even a little shade can make all the difference in their lifespan. Sunlight promotes bacterial growth, while cool temperatures and shade will impede both, and further slowing decomposition.
- Spray the outside of your carved pumpkin once a day with a mixture of one part bleach and three parts water. This will disinfect the surface, and help keep away mold growth.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.