Pumpkin Pie

pumpkinI know it  has not cooled down much here in Texas, but it has cooled enough to start thinking about fall. With the cooler months also come the harvest season and upcoming holidays with family and friends. A traditional dessert for these cooler months is pumpkin pie. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie but my family likes, it so I learned how to make a good one.

Imagine my surprise to learn that the canned “pumpkin” bought at the super market is not pumpkin at all but squash. The squash is a special variety called Dickinson, and was developed specifically by Libby’s. Libby is the brand responsible for selling about 85% of canned pumpkin filling sold in the U.S. The variety bears a lot more resemblance to a butternut squash than any pumpkin. So if you have been making pies with canned filling, you have been making squash and not pumpkin pies.

Why do they use this squash and not pumpkins? Seems the pumpkin is 90 percent water content and mostly hollow inside. The squash is supposed to be better because it is sweeter, fleshier and creamier. Or is it …

IMG_3018I decided to grow some of the sweet pie pumpkins when I lived in Ohio and let those that liked pumpkin pie be the judge. When it was time to harvest the pumpkins I had to make pumpkin puree before I could use them in a pie. To get the puree I removed the stem from the pumpkin and cut the pumpkin in half. I then scraped out the insides. I saved my seeds so they could be washed and then baked after the pumpkins were done. I laid the halved pumpkin pieces cut-side up on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until pumpkin is fork-tender. Then let the pumpkin cool. Once cooled it is very easy to scoop out the pulp from the roasted pumpkin. To get your puree, blend in a food processor until smooth.

IMG_3020It does take a little more than opening a can.. but two pumpkins will give you about six cups of puree so you do have enough to make a few pies for all the effort. And the  bonus of some salted pumpkin seeds to snack on.

When I made the pies I pretty much followed Libby’s recipe.

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated milk

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

I put the pumpkin into a pie crust made with oil and milk. My mom has always made her pie crusts with this recipe and her crusts have always been better and flakier than any other crust I tasted on other pies. For your average pie take:

2 scant cups flour
3Tsp. Sugar
1/2 c. Crisco oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
Mix oil & milk with fork until frothy. Sift flour and salt together. Beat oil and milk with a fork. Then add to flour and blend well. Divide in half. Roll out the crusts on between wax paper.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream if desired before serving.

If you search the internet you will see pies made with the real pumpkin are a lighter color and have a bit different texture than those made from the can. The taste results do vary with some saying the pumpkin from scratch is better while others say don’t go through all the trouble as the canned is better. When I presented the pies made with the real pumpkin my taste testers did agree that the flavor was different and better than the pies that are made from canned squash. Though I don’t eat pumpkin pie I enjoyed creating a dish that was so well received by family and friends. I am glad I took the time and made the effort as I also like knowing what is in the food I prepare.

IMG_3022Since I did not get the garden going and pumpkins planted this year, I purchased two pumpkins from the grocery store. While I do prefer to grow my own, these two pumpkins are the smaller and sweeter pie pumpkins and we labeled as such. I know many use them as small Jack-O-Lanterns or holiday decor, but when prepared for pies they gave me a little over six cups of puree that will give me three pies. My plan is to take two into work and make one for my neighbor George that keeps my yard mowed and trimmed. I will get a few more pumpkins to have pies for the holidays.

I baked the pumpkins yesterday and put the puree into sandwich bags that afternoon. Then I stuck the bags into the freezer for pie making time. I did two bags with two cups, two bags with one cup and the little that was left of about a half cup I think I will use in some fall pumpkin scented soap. It is nice that the puree stores well in the freezer. I had a large crop of pumpkins in Ohio and just pre-measured the puree into bags and froze. It was then super easy to thaw out a bag, mix in spices and dump into a pie shell for a quick dessert.

If you want to make a real pumpkin pie this year, I encourage you to spend an afternoon baking some pumpkins. Even if you don’t find the pie tastes better, there is something very satisfying about knowing you did more than just open a can.

Sorry just turned on my phone.. 2 scant cups of flour ,3T. Sugar , 1/4 t. Salt…3/4 c crisco oil, 1/4 c milk, mix oil & milk with fork until frothy, add to flour mixture .. Divide in half, roll between wax paper

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