It’s National Pumpkin Pie Day, so to celebrate, I made my first fresh pumpkin pie! Thanks to the information at PickYourOwn.org, I learned the difference between pie pumpkins and carving pumpkins and found one of the former at my local Whole Foods. Since they were selling for $2.50 each, I picked the biggest one they had, weighing in at 4.15 pounds, which worked out to 60¢/pound – significantly cheaper than usually recommended alternative butternut or acorn squashes in the supermarket.
As directed in the detailed, illustrated, step-by-step instructions by PickYourOwn, I cut the pumpkin in half (using a heavy Chinese cleaver), cut off the stem, and scooped out the seeds and stringy insides. I steamed each half on a steamer basket, covered, in my tall stockpot (on high heat for 15 minutes, then lower heat for another 10 minutes). The skin came right off in one piece.
Rather than roll out whole graham crackers, I bought a box of graham cracker crumbs and made a graham cracker pie crust with the crumbs, adding sugar and butter as per the box’s instructions (mixing the ingredients in my food processor). I spread the fairly loose mixture into a pie pan and pressed it into the pan using a matching pie pan on top, then baked the empty crust for 8 minutes as instructed to make it golden brown.
I cut the pumpkin flesh into big chunks and used my stick blender to puree it. I ended up with almost 6 cups of pumpkin puree. It was quite thick – not at all watery.
Trying for the freshest flavors, I hand-ground whole cloves, allspice berries, and fresh ginger using a mortar and pestle and mixed together the PickYourOwn recipe’s ingredients. I ladled the pie mixture into the pie shell, to within 1/4″ of the top and loosely covered the edge of the crust with strips of aluminum foil, crimped over the edge of the pie pan. I baked it as instructed using my convection oven at 425° for 15 minutes, then 350° for another 45 minutes.
The doneness testing knife came out clean, so I removed the pie from the oven and let it cool while I ate dinner.
Resigned to discard my failure and cook another pie tomorrow, I finished eating my eggplant then tried the slice of pie I had previously cut. To my surprise, it tasted quite good. It wasn’t the classically sweet pumpkin pie I was used to, but I thought that my Mom would actually prefer it to the normal sweet version, since she doesn’t care for sweet desserts. The crust was yummy; the pie mixture had soaked into the crumbly crust, giving it a nicely toothy texture.
So I’ll wait a couple of days before using the excess pumpkin mixture and some of the remaining puree to make another pie – this time, hopefully, remembering to add honey to see how sweet it turns out. Meanwhile, I can guiltlessly devour the rest of my under-sweet pie knowing I’m benefiting from the anti-oxidant virtues of the superfood pumpkin, with less sugar! I’ll freeze the leftover pumpkin puree – and go buy another pie pumpkin, cook, puree, and freeze it, since it’s been very hard to locate canned pumpkin.
Here’s PickYourOwn’s ingredients, cut down by about 1/3 to reduce the amount of excess pie filling for a 9″ pie:
Pumpkin Pie Filling
2/3 cup sugar – or 2/3 cup Splenda, or 1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (another superfood!)
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
2 cups cooked pumpkin puree
1 can (12oz) of evaporated milk (I used the nonfat version)