It’s that time of year again when the cool air creeps in, leaves change colors and one plant rolls into the spooky spotlight — pumpkins.
Sure, you can purchase a traditional orange jack-o'-lantern pumpkin. But where’s the fun in that?
“The whole novelty pumpkin, that’s booming,” Drew Echols, manager of Jaemor Farms, said when referring to pumpkins often viewed as nontraditional. “Fortunately, this year, pumpkins are in extremely high demand. We’re selling more pumpkins that we ever have.”
This year, Jaemor Farms, located off Cornelia Highway in Alto, is reaping a harvest of 12 different varieties of pumpkins, spanning over 50 acres, Echols said.
He first planted the crop in mid-June and began harvest during the first week of September. Echols said pumpkins are typically sold at Jaemor Farms until after Thanksgiving. People can also pick their own at the farms’ pumpkin patch throughout October.
When looking at the spread of pumpkins of all shapes, colors and sizes at Jaemor Farms, it can prove a little intimidating.
In addition to the orange pumpkins used for jack-o'-lantern carving, you can find the knuckle head, which flaunts a warty exterior like a Halloween witch’s face; the blue doll, a bluish green stout variety; the Cinderella, a vibrant orange type sometimes touched by a hint of green; the prizewinner, a massive squash the size of a toddler; and the one too many pumpkin, which Echols describes as a “blood-shot eyeball.”
And for home décor purposes, Jaemor Farms offers small types like the poco blanco, which is solid white, and the crunchkin, a flat orange variety.
Carli Jones, the farm’s agritourism and marketing coordinator, said the pumpkins’ prices range from $1 to $50, with the prize winners being the most expensive. Jaemor Farms sells its crop to fall agritourism attractions across Northeast Georgia, including the Buford Corn Maze. Depending on the type, Jones said pumpkins can last for two months after harvest.
To eat or not to eat
Lucky for you, Echols said all the pumpkins at Jaemor Farms are edible; however, some are tastier than others and less of a hassle.
Despite its name, Echols advises against using pie pumpkins — the small to medium-sized orange pumpkins usually found in grocery stores — for cooking.
“That’s a misconception,” he said. “That used to be the case, but now they’ve been bred more for decoration. They have more of a hard shell, so they’ll stick around and not rot until Thanksgiving.”
Echols said the pie pumpkins, with hard-to-pierce exteriors, sold at Jaemor Farms are the same type taking up grocery stores this fall. He explained that they can still be used for cooking, but people can opt for a sweeter, less difficult-to-cut variety.
“It’s weird that they turned out like that, and we still call them pie pumpkins,” he said. “It would be better off to call it a kid’s pumpkin.”
Echols said the No. 1 best pumpkin for cooking is the Cinderella, which he describes as having a sweet flavor, a lot of meat and little seeds. His second option is the fairytale, which looks like a washed-out version of the Cinderella. He said it also contains more meat, also known as pumpkin flesh, than the other varieties.
“Any of them are edible, and nothing is going to kill you,” Echols said, chuckling. “It’s just a matter of tasting good.”