For cooking, bypass the oversize Goliaths and go for a petite pick; you'll get more tender flesh. Look for a green stem, which means it's fresh from harvest. It should be smooth and round for easier peeling and cutting. Sugar Pie is a cooking variety that's easy to find at most stores; at your farmers' market try heirloom varieties such as Cinderella, Blue Hubbard, Long Island Cheese, or King Mammoth Gold.
Keep 'Em High and Dry
When you bring pumpkins home from the store or market, extend their shelf life by keeping them away from moisture. When stored in a cool, dry place, Sugar Pie pumpkins will keep about eight to 12 weeks. Heirloom types have thicker skin and flesh, and can last four to six months.
Try Simple Swaps
Pumpkins appear in markets for a limited time in fall, but you can substitute other common winter squashes or even sweet potatoes. Try these for variety: butternut, acorn, delicata, calabaza, or carnival squash.