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Old 22.08.2011, 14:30
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Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

Hi all,

Last year, me (never lived in US) and my friend (from the US) ended up in a big (BIG!) discussion about pumpkin pie and pie pumpkins.
All those years I was under the apparently wrong impression that the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins are made into pumpkin pie. I mean, you carve them, so what better to do with the "waste"?
"Shocked" is probably the best expression of my friend's face when I mentioned that. So I learned, no, it's not the big ones, it's small sweet orange squashes you take.
Since I have a garden and like to grow vegetables, I had a small squash left I made into a pumpkin pie. I thought it tasted really good, but since this was my very first pumpkin pie, how do I know if it's the "real" taste? Best: ask my friend, I thought. My pie was deemed acceptable but the squash I took was still the wrong one.
And that's where the discussion started. Which pumpkins/squashes are perfect, good, acceptable, impossible to use? Can I get them here and if so, under the same name or a different one?

The squash I used was a Red Kuri (also called "Hokkaido"). It has a certain sweet taste, at least, to me. Some say it's a Hubbard but no idea if that is true since I never bought a Hubbard squash under that name.
This year, I additionally grew Acorn squash and Sweet Mama. Those were the only "sweet squash" seeds I could get.
The Pie Pumpkin that is often used I couldn't get any seeds of. I also don't know if they are called the same here. Probably not, since pumpkin pie isn't a traditional Swiss dish. But what are they called then?

Anybody having any experience in using the above mentioned squash sorts for making pumpkin pie?
And please, don't say "use canned pumpkin". I want the real stuff and grow it.
Thanks for any help in that matter.

PS: Unfortunately, my friend couldn't get any pie pumpkin seeds in the US, but the tomatillo and collard seeds he gave me for Christmas grew really well!
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Old 22.08.2011, 14:41
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

Most Americans' sense of where pumpkin pie comes from is this, hence most Americans don't really know which type of pumpkin it is.
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Old 22.08.2011, 14:56
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

There are field pumpkins - your typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins - which are way too watery and stringy to make good pies.

There are your small, round orange pie pumpkins - New England, Sweet Sugar, etc. -which are better but still not quite there. If you absolutely must use a pumpkin that "looks like a pumpkin", these are the ones.

Then there are the real pie pumpkins, which don't look as nice (skins are tan instead of orange), technically aren't even pumpkins at all (Cucurbita moschata, same species as butternut squash) but mmmm, the flavor!
Varieties to look for are Kentucky Field, Dickinson, Buckskin or any of various French and New England heirloom strains (the New England ones are known as "cheese pumpkins.") Might be easier to get the French varieties over here, I can't remember their names though. Will go browse the internet and see if anything rings a bell.

Or you can just use a butternut squash or a Red Kuri - don't worry, I won't tell!

(Red Kuri are absolutely NOT the same as Hubbard squash, by the way. Hubbards are excellent 'keepers' but pretty average in the pie lineup.)
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:03
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

Allaboutpumpkins recommends for pies:

Baby Pam Sugar Pie
Rouge vif D'Etampes
New England Pie
Musqat De Provence
Long Island Cheese
Lumina
Marina Di Chioggia
Pic-A- Pie

I have definitely seen at least Muscat and Rouge around.
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:10
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Most Americans' sense of where pumpkin pie comes from is this, hence most Americans don't really know which type of pumpkin it is.
As a gardener, I like(d) growing my own, experimenting with different varieties.
As a baker, however, I won't hear a word against the canned stuff. There is nothing in it but pumpkin - no sugar, salt, preservatives, nothing - and it is actually better quality than fresh: stronger flavor, lower moisture content. (Do you have a centrifuge in your kitchen? Me neither.)
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:30
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Most Americans' sense of where pumpkin pie comes from is this, hence most Americans don't really know which type of pumpkin it is.
That would be Dickinson pumpkin, which is actually a squash.

Butternut squash will work great.
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:38
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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As a gardener, I like(d) growing my own, experimenting with different varieties.
As a baker, however, I won't hear a word against the canned stuff. There is nothing in it but pumpkin - no sugar, salt, preservatives, nothing - and it is actually better quality than fresh: stronger flavor, lower moisture content. (Do you have a centrifuge in your kitchen? Me neither.)
Well, the easy way to make pumpkin pulp is to seed it, cut into large chunks, then nuke it in a plastic bag until cooked. Comes out almost as dense as canned.

Italian pumpkins work great as well (but are really ugly), we got a couple from my girlfriend's cousin last year, great for pies and soup!

Tom
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:40
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Well, the easy way to make pumpkin pulp is to seed it, cut into large chunks, then nuke it in a plastic bag until cooked. Comes out almost as dense as canned.

Tom
"almost" is fine for pumpkin soup. Not for custard pies.

(Am I picky? OK, I'm picky.)
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:47
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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"almost" is fine for pumpkin soup. Not for custard pies.

(Am I picky? OK, I'm picky.)
Use heavy cream, and it works out fine.

Tom
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:53
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

As an elderly Brit, I had absolutely no idea how to make pumpkin pie, and had tried making it only once with an emormous pumpkin my kids had used at Hallowe'Een.
No wonder I thought it was pretty awful and never tried again.
I've learned a lot here this afternoon, and I'll definitely give it another go using the right ingredients.
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Old 22.08.2011, 15:57
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

Wow! I'm surrounded by pumpkin experts. Great!
Thanks so much for all your posts. I knew there were a lot of sorts out there but never expected that many. I definitely have a lot to try.

Maybe the moisture of the pulp also depends on the sort of the pumpkin? Well, if I can lay my hand on a canned pumpkin I'll try that one, too. Just for comparison... I mean it's always good to have a reason for a dessert.

Thanks again!
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Old 22.08.2011, 16:00
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Maybe the moisture of the pulp also depends on the sort of the pumpkin?
Yes, as well as the flavor.

Tom
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Old 22.08.2011, 16:24
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Maybe the moisture of the pulp also depends on the sort of the pumpkin?
No idea what's done in the canning process, but for using fresh pumpkins, plan on buying cheesecloth to drain the cooked pumpkin. Otherwise it will be too watery.

The typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins are too bland and stringy for pumpkin pie. I've used Hokkaido pumpkins, bought here, with success.
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:12
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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As a gardener, I like(d) growing my own, experimenting with different varieties.
As a baker, however, I won't hear a word against the canned stuff. There is nothing in it but pumpkin - no sugar, salt, preservatives, nothing - and it is actually better quality than fresh: stronger flavor, lower moisture content. (Do you have a centrifuge in your kitchen? Me neither.)
I'm a mad baker and have done it both ways, with the canned and with my own freshly grown pie pumpkins and, honestly, while the taste occasionally was fresher with my own, the canned stuff is such a labor saver that I prefer the canned. I might still buy a pie pumpkin on occasion, but since nobody I bake for notices the difference between fresh and canned pumpkin, I just buy the canned and luxuriate in my time saved. I will say this, though, it's gotta be Libby's. I've tried a number of different brands, including 'organic' stuff from WF and Libby's remains the best.
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Old 22.08.2011, 18:21
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Wow! I'm surrounded by pumpkin experts. Great!
Thanks so much for all your posts. I knew there were a lot of sorts out there but never expected that many. I definitely have a lot to try.

Maybe the moisture of the pulp also depends on the sort of the pumpkin? Well, if I can lay my hand on a canned pumpkin I'll try that one, too. Just for comparison... I mean it's always good to have a reason for a dessert.

Thanks again!
Make some of these pumpkin whoopie pies from the "Baked" bakery in NYC. You can get light/dark muscovado sugar in the Jelmoli food shop in the basement. I also have been led to believe that canned pumpkin shows up around these parts around Oct/Nov so you might be able to get that as well. I made a triple batch of these for a family gathering last year and the kids were licking the platter and asking for more while other desserts sat around waiting to be loved. (NB: the recipe gives a yield of 12, but I use a small cookie scoop to make many more small/mini whoopie pies) Give them a try
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Old 22.08.2011, 23:31
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

I also use canned pumpkin. Saves so much time and is often better. It's like canned tomatoes. For certain uses canned tomatoes are better than fresh.
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Old 22.08.2011, 23:48
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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I will say this, though, it's gotta be Libby's. I've tried a number of different brands, including 'organic' stuff from WF and Libby's remains the best.
Yes, the few cans I have stashed are also Libby's!

But, as I said, there are certainly pumpkin types (at least in Italy) that work just as well (Libby's is my emergency backup, should the real stuff fail).

Tom
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Old 22.08.2011, 23:50
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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For certain uses canned tomatoes are better than fresh.
Quicker, yes, but better only when tomatoes are out of season.

Tom
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Old 23.08.2011, 13:31
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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Quicker, yes, but better only when tomatoes are out of season.

Tom
All canning does it "cook" the food. This means it can (geddit haha) be worse, but in the case of tomatoes for eg pizza, you should only use canned San Marzano, and this is coming from a Neapolitan pizzaiola.
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Old 23.08.2011, 13:44
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Re: Pumpkin Pie and Pie Pumpkin

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All canning does it "cook" the food. This means it can (geddit haha) be worse, but in the case of tomatoes for eg pizza, you should only use canned San Marzano, and this is coming from a Neapolitan pizzaiola.
Not you who complains when we're off-topic is it?
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