Perhaps most notable for its appearance – it resembles a wheel of cheese, after all – Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is a popular heirloom pumpkin. With its fine-grained, stringless flesh, it’s famous for cooking up velvety smooth and sweet.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Long Island Cheese Squash, Cheese Pumpkin
TASTE: Mild and sweet with a fine-grain, stringless texture
FAVORITE PREPARATIONS: Very popular in pies
Table of Contents
- About Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
- An Interesting History
- Nutrition & Benefits
- Finding and Selecting Long Island Cheese Pumpkins
- How Long Do They Last in Storage?
- How to Peel & Cut Long Island Cheese Pumpkins
- Can Dogs Eat Long Island Cheese Pumpkin?
About Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Long Island Cheese Pumpkins are a medium to large pumpkin, weighing six to 10 pounds each. They are buff in color, a pale peachy-cream – similar in hue to butternut squash. They have very shallow, subtle ribbing. Inside this “cheese wheel pumpkin,” the flesh is deep orange and stringless.
An Interesting History
According to the Smithsonian, where this treasured heirloom grows in the victory garden, the pumpkin was first grown in Central or South America, making its way to the Northeastern region via trade in the 1500s. It became very popular, flourishing in east coast gardens through the 1700s.
By the 1800s, it was brought into mass production, its stringless, sweet flesh revered for the best pumpkin pies around.
But in the mid-20th century, modern food production pushed the peach pumpkin aside in favor of other pumpkins that were easier to process on a mass scale. As the story goes, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin almost went extinct in the 1970s and was brought back to life by one man, a lone seed saver on a mission. The story varies, however. Either way, we are so glad this unique-looking pumpkin is still around!
Nutrition & Benefits
Are Long Island Cheese Pumpkins healthy? Absolutely! Like other pumpkins, Long Island Cheese are low in calorie and high in nutrients and fiber. Long Island Cheese Pumpkin sports bright orange flesh brimming with antioxidants, along with vitamins A and and potassium.
Finding and Selecting Long Island Cheese Pumpkins
When I really started shopping for unique squash and pumpkins, in fall 2022, I was pleased to find Long Island Cheese Pumpkins at a handful of places near me (in Washington State). I was able to find them at a couple of local produce markets as well as a nearby pumpkin farm.
Once you’ve found them, you’ll want to choose a pumpkin that’s smooth and firm with no mushy spots.
How Long Do They Last in Storage?
Long Island Cheese is revered for being an all-winter-long keeper – perfect for a hit of nutrients toward the end of winter. Be sure to store in cool and dry conditions for the longest-lasting pumpkins.
How to Peel & Cut Long Island Cheese Pumpkins
The best way to cut an unwieldy winter squash or pumpkin is to create a flat spot first so that you have a stable specimen to begin with. I find Long Island Cheese Pumpkin to be a challenge in this regard – its rind is hard, and with its shape, it’s hard to create a flat spot or cut off the ends.
So – with a very sharp, large, heavy knife, I like to carefully cut this one into quarters, scoop out the seeds (those come out easily!), and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. I really like pie and soups with Long Island Cheese Pumpkin so after it’s baked I give it the puree treatment.
- Perfected Pumpkin Pie on Food52
- Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup by Out East Foodie
- Cheese Pumpkin Soup with Sage & Apple from New York Times
Can Dogs Eat Long Island Cheese Pumpkin?
Yes! According to the ASPCA, pumpkins and squash are safe for dogs.