During the fall, or even winter, we sometimes get pumpkins in our CSA share. Some years more than others, but always at least one during the year. They are great, because they store well — just put them in a dark cupboard — and because they taste good, too. And you generally get a lot of pumpkin all at once. Wait, what did I hear you ask, “Do you actually eat the pumpkins?” Of course we do, as in pumpkin pie. Yesterday, we wrote up our test of a Vodka Pie Crust, and, naturally we needed something to put in it. So, read on, and see how we make pumpkin pie, starting with a pumpkin.
As you’ll see, it’s really easy to cook up and prepare a pumpkin for making pies. Or breads. Or anything else that calls for canned pumpkin. If you have a huge pumpkin, the pumpkin meat freezes well, so you can make pies all year-long. Sounds good, right? Let’s get that pumpkin started. We’ll show you that, then we’ll include our recipe for pie.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cut and clean pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin in half, or quarters, or pieces that are a manageable size. Clean out the inside of the pumpkin, scraping down to the flesh.
Bake. Place pumpkin pieces on a rimmed baking sheet (pumpkins release water when baking) cut side down, and bake until soft, about 1 hour.
Cool. Remove pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool. It will collapse.
Scrape out pumpkin. Using a large spoon, scrape out the pumpkin meat. A medium-sized pumpkin will yield 2-4 pounds. That’s 2-4 cans of pumpkin, and, if your stores are like ours, each can will set you back a couple of dollars.
Package and freeze. We usually scoop 2 cups into a large seal-able freezer bag and flatten; they stack in the freezer, are a good size for us, and thaw in minutes.
Note that home scratched pumpkin will have a milder flavor than the canned (we’ve heard that canned pumpkin can be a blend of winter squashes, and not really pumpkin), so adjust your expectations accordingly.
Okay, we got our pumpkin. Let’s make pie! We’ve had good luck with a modified version of the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.
Makes a 9-inch pie.
- 1 9-inch pie crust, you can use the Vodka recipe we gave yesterday, or your favorite
- 2-cups (16 ounces) pumpkin (if you didn’t bake your own, you could use a can)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup milk (if using canned pumpkin)
Pumpkin from a can has a thicker consistency than home-baked pumpkin. If you go with the former, do add the 1/2 cup of milk when mixing. Eggs: free range all the way!
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mix pumpkin and spices. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and, if using, ginger.
Add eggs. Crack those eggs and mix until well-blended.
Add evaporated milk. Pour in the evaporated milk, and stir until blended.
Pour batter into crust. Pour the pumpkin batter into a prepared 9-inch pie crust.
Bake. Place in the oven (on a rimmed baking sheet if it looks as if it might go over the edge), and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If your crust starts to look too brown on the edges, cover the exposed crust with foil.
Cool. Remove from oven and cool. Place in refrigerator and let the flavors meld for a day.
This is our standard recipe for pumpkin pie, whether the pumpkin comes from a can (okay, we’ll admit it, sometimes), or from a pumpkin (usually). It’s easy, has good pumpkin flavor, just the right amount of spice, and isn’t too sweet; in short, it’s everything a pumpkin pie should be. Five!