Pumpkini or Zumpkin?

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house last year, and my mom brought out some decorations to supplement the very little I had. Among these were some pretty pumpkins that dressed up our mantle nicely. After the holiday was over, the pumpkins ended up in our garden to rot. I can’t totally remember why I did that.

Anyway, last winter and spring were unseasonably warm, and the last frost was sometime at the end of March. About that time, dozens and dozens of pumpkin seeds started sprouting. Knowing pumpkins are spreaders, I picked 98% of the ones that came up (yeah, I probably have picked at least a hundred by now). I left the two biggest plants in my garden, and WOW are they big now.

One of them is producing beautiful carving pumpkins, large and round and orange. It currently has grown two pumpkins to maturity and is working on at least SIX more in varying stages of development. Apparently pumpkins usually just grow the two, sometimes grow as many as five, and rarely grow more than that. I have eight, people. Some have suggested that I pick the smaller ones, but I’m not super worried that the medium-sized ones won’t mature if I don’t. One of them is the size of a small jack-o-lantern already, and two more are cantaloupe-sized. By October, all three should be as big as the two big ones, I’d guess. The next few are more iffy, but I’d be thrilled to walk away with five pumpkins.

Anyway, this post isn’t really about the pumpkin plant. It’s about the neighboring plant, which apparently is a hybrid. Instead of pumpkins, it grows these:

Lego with pumpkini

So far I’ve gotten four out of the plant. The fourth I’ve left growing to see how big it ends up and whether it ever changes color. I doubt it will.

Anyway, I had to do something with this mystery vegetable. Could I treat it like a zucchini and make zucchini bread with it? Could I treat it like a sugar pumpkin and puree it for pumpkin bread or muffins? Could I eat it plain or would it be too tough, bitter, or tasteless?

I tried asking the Internet first, but all I really found out was that a) pumpkins and zucchini like to pollinate each other, b) you’re more likely to get a hybrid if you plant seeds from your Halloween pumpkin than if you plant store-bought seeds, and c) this particular hybrid is usually called either a pumpkini or a zumpkin, depending on which plant is the “mother.”

So it was up to me to figure out how to use my pumpkini. I figured I’d try both ways and see what the results were. First I cut the pumpkini in half.

pumpkini cross-section

As you can see, white flesh like a zucchini, but kind of hollow with the seeds and “brains” in the center like a pumpkin. Raw, it tasted, well, halfway between a pumpkin and a zucchini. Fancy that!

I peeled and deseeded each half, chopped the first half, and placed the chunks in boiling water. About five minutes later, I had this:

I took the boiled cubes of pumpkini and pureed them until they looked like this:

pumpkini puree

As you can see, it’s quite a bit runnier, if you will, than canned pumpkin usually is. I was really worried at this point by the color. Would my “pumpkin” muffins be greenish? Would anyone want to eat them? Would the extra wateriness be a problem? But after I’d added all the other ingredients, the batter was a much more appealing light tan. The muffins baked up great and super moist, and they were gobbled up (and shared with neighbors and friends) in a matter of days.

I have since used this method of preparation to make ten loaves of pumpkin(i) bread, which were even better than the muffins. Keep in mind that those ten loaves came from only TWO pumpkinis. Yikes.

Back to the original one, though. I shredded the other half like I would have done with a zucchini. This took forever, so I’m not sure I’ll do it again with such a large vegetable. I then made a chocolate zucchini bread recipe I’d tried and loved before. This too turned out great. I was worried that the firmer flesh of the pumpkini would translate into “crunchy” chocolate bread, but no shreds were discernible in the finished product.

The moral of the story is that the humble pumpkini is a very versatile vegetable. You can’t exactly saute it in oil with onions like you can with zucchini, and I wouldn’t add it to a salad raw, but if you find yourself in possession of one, the baking possibilities are many. Post a comment if you’ve had success with a zucchini-pumpkin hybrid (or if you just feel like posting a comment!). I hope that the next person like me who doesn’t know what to do with one can find this post helpful.


  1. I ate half of the pumpkini bread loaf all by myself in about 5 minutes or less (should I be ashamed? maybe)and the only reason I stopped was because I had to have some left for the kids for our FHE treat. It was so moist and delicious. I loved it. Thank you.

    I saved a bunch of sugar pumpkin seeds from some sugar pumpkins I bought last year and am excited to finally plant them… I hope waiting two years doesn’t kill them off. we’ll find out. From your experience, though, I think I’ll only plant a few seeds 🙂

  2. Haha, glad you liked it. 🙂 I hope your sugar pumpkins grow, but I kinda hope for the sake of your sanity that you don’t end up with ten of them on one plant. That would be a LOT of baking.

    Also, I’d say plant a lot. It doesn’t really hurt much to have to thin some, and it’s a lot better than not having any sprout. I planted a whole package of watermelon seeds this year and lost all but two to ravenous earwigs. One grew big and has only just now created a tiny watermelon. I doubt it will ripen before the frost kills it. Sad.

  3. My daughter and I are new to growing vegetables and decided to try pumpkini, we have four plants which flowered well and actually started little pumpkin but when they reached about golf ball size the flower died and so did the fruits. We still have lots of flowers. Can anyone help us and tell what we are doing wrong.

  4. I don’t know a whole lot. Where did you get your seeds? Any time you get a hybrid, the chances of it being viable are mixed. Where do you live? It seems late for pumpkins in the US (where I live), but if you’re in the southern hemisphere, maybe the season is just starting.

  5. Thanks for the reply, we live in Queensland Australia, semi tropical. We bought four plants from a reputable nursery and the plants really took off and still look very healthy and are flowering but the fruit doesn’t reach maturity before falling off. I would love to have so many I could bake with them but so far none. Jean.

  6. Thank you so much for your post! I just ended up with a couple of these odd looking fellows in my garden and wondered if I would just have to compost them or if I could do something with them. I am now confident that I can make bread etc. for a barbecue tomorrow 🙂 By the way, I live in Scottsdale Arizona, maybe it is the claimant also conducive to cross pollination. It’s warm and dry here most of the time.

  7. Did you let them ripen, so to speak? I picked what I believe to be a zumpkin this past weekend and shredded it for zucchini bread, thinking that it was a zucchini. Looked like one, but the seedy center was more like a pumpkins and it even smelled a bit like a pumpkin. Bread was absolutely delicious. I have another bad boy on the same plant as the other was on. I noticed when looking at the plant, it has the curly cues that you would find on a pumpkin plant. Pretty sure I didn’t plant zucchini there, but do have some zucchini plants. I did, however, let one of last years pumpkins rot and tilled the seeds under in the spring. It was a homegrown pumpkin from last year, that had been planted from a store bought pumpkin the year before that.

  8. I bought a zucchini/pumpkin from a farm stand thinking it was a zucchini. I used it to make soup and it turned out great.

  9. Hey here in 2019 I have a zumpkini plant I’ve bred it myself by accident. It’s growing several vines and has a rounding green pumpkin looking vegetable on one vine and the main big vine has a giant zucchini looking vegetable that looks like yours! Thanks for the recipe tips

  10. I brought this to preschool today because I didn’t know what it was. We came up with the name pumpkini because we figured out it was a cross between the pumpkins I used to grow in my garden and the zucchini I grow now. I had no idea I hadn’t discovered something new until I had time to look on the net. We cut it up. I tasted the seeds for the kids. There were two different kinds and it was stringy like a pumpkin in the middle but harder on the outer edges. It was fun but I really thought we had invented something new.

  11. I noticed that yours are green and shaped more like a zucchini, but mine ended up being shaped like a spaghetti squash, though much bigger, and since I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with them, Inlet them sit inside for a while, and they all turned bright orange like the two pumpkins that grew out of the same plant, which had both the bunched up stalks of a zucchini where the hybrids were grown, and a typical pumpkin runner, where the two large pumpkins grew. I had mine come up similar to yours where I had left a few pumpkins in the garden unused from the year before. Since we ended up with a dozen of these things weighing in at about 8lbs, the plan is to skin them, gut them, and cube them up and freeze them for the future, but you’re not kidding about the bread, some of the best bread ever, and super moist using my normal zucchini bread recipe. I’m thinking about trying to use a pumpkins pie recipe since I’m going to do that with the two pumpkins and anyway just to see how that turns out…betting it might need to bake slightly longer if anything. It’s exciting to know this is a thing, and it’s hilarious we were calling these things pumpkinis and zumpkins without even knowing that was the official designation. Thanks for the information!

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