Faced with the choices below of sources for cooked pumpkin purée to use in a pie, which one would you choose?
I chose the big one. No-brainer. More pumpkin flesh, more purée. I’ve got a lot of baking to do. I’m smart. NOT. There is more intense and earthy pumpkin flavor in the small “pie” pumpkin than in the biggest pumpkin you’ve ever brought home from a pumpkin patch. And, by the way, the flavor in the canned purée may equal that of the little two-pounder.
How much work was it to roast the big pumpkin to find this out the hard way?
All that work, and when I used the purée in my Mom’s Pumpkin Pie, a pie that always delivers, it barely tasted like pumpkin, the flavor was that vapid. Additionally, the pie left a chalky aftertaste in my mouth that only I detected, but it was enough to make me throw the rest of the pie in the compost.
The next morning, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought two pie pumpkins and a can of pumpkin purée. Note: each of these items was a $1.99, so there was no monetary benefit to making this a DIY project. The only benefit was quelling my curiosity about what went wrong flavorwise.
Roasting Pie Pumpkins
I followed the directions on the label and cooked the pumpkins at 350º for 1½ hours.
Here’s the thing I didn’t know about pumpkin purée. It’s not sweet and tasty on its own. Having never stuck my finger into a can of purée before, this surprised me. I thought I was familiar with the taste of pumpkin from eating it in desserts, but they are sweetened with sugar and flavored by vanilla and spices. I remember a similar thing happened the first time I tasted natural unsweetened cocoa. I was expecting to taste the chocolate of a candy bar and instead what I tasted was bitter and harsh. The pumpkin surprise factor wasn’t nearly as extreme, but you get the idea.
So, will I ever cook a big pumpkin for purée again? Not likely.
Will I ever roast a small pie pumpkin again? Perhaps, when I have grandchildren and want to show them where pumpkin purée comes from.
Will I go back to buying canned pumpkin? Yes, for sure!
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