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A study in pumpkin pie – pilgrims to today

By Culinary Cowboy | November 25, 2008

We start off in this examination of pumpkin pie with a hard truth.  Most U.S.  pumpkin pie is a lie.

An interesting fact is that most canned ‘pumpkin’ is actually hubbard squash. Hubbard squash has the characteristic rich orange flesh and bold flavor that users of canned pumpkin will be familiar with. If you are trying to make homemade pumpkin pie, you may have found that the taste of ‘sweet pumpkins’ is not as rich as what is normally found in canned pumpkin. For better results try using hubbard squash.
Source wikia

This is not new, as witnessed by this excerpt from the White House Cook Book, circa 1913.

Boston marrow or Hubbard squash may be substituted for pumpkin and are much preferred by many, as possessing a less strong flavor.
Source:  White House Cook Book

Interesting substitions for completely opposite reasons.

Anyway, in 1894 Ohio, this is how at least one woman put together a pumpkin pie.

However, we first have a tip about pie crust from the White House Cook Book.

In baking custard, pumpkin or squash pies, it is well, in order that the mixture may not be absorbed by the paste, to first partly bake the paste before adding it, and when stewed fruit is used the filling should be  perfectly cool when put in, or it will make the bottom crust sodden.
To prevent the juice soaking through into the crust, making it soggy, wet the under crust with the white of an egg, just before you put in the pie mixture.
Source:  White House Cook Book

And now the recipe.

From a 19th century recipe for pumpkin pie


  • 1 coffeecup mashed pumpkin
  • rich milk
  • melted butter or cream
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lard
  • a little salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • very cold water
  • 1 egg white


One coffeecup of mashed pumpkin, reduced to the proper consistency with rich milk and melted butter or cream, one tablespoonful of flour a small pinch of salt, one teaspoon of ginger, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one half nutmeg, one half teaspoon of vanilla, one half teaspoon of lemon extract, two-thirds cup of sugar.

PUFF PASTE.–One third cup of lard, a little salt, mix slightly with one and one half cups of flour, moisten with very cold water, just enough to hold together; get into shape for your tin as soon as possible. Brush the paste with the white of egg. Bake in a hot oven until a rich brown.


Recipes 1894 Style |Pies 1894 Style

Adapted from Recipes Tried and True, compiled by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church, Marion, Ohio, 1894, a source in the public domain.
Source: About.com:  Women’s History

Now, below is a modern version of the pie.
However, it also has instructions for roasting the pumpkin to prepare a purée for the pie filling.  For those not interested in a pie, filling the halves with butter and savory seasonings, as one would with a baked winter squash, makes a splendid side dish.  You also can scrape out the baked pumpkin meat and make a deslightful mashed pumpkin dish.  Just a reminder, scoop out the meat and discard the shell before mashing.   You can, of course, keep the shell and served the resulting mashed ingredients in the shell.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie Recipe

By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Mansi_Desai]Mansi Desai

I’ve added the recipe to make fresh Pumpkin Puree as it makes a huge difference to the taste. The roasted pumpkin puree adds a delicious flavor and aroma, but if you don’t have enough time on hand, you can use the canned pumpkin puree to bake the pie.


Pumpkin Puree

1 pie pumpkin (weighing 2 to 3 lbs.)

Vegetable oil

Pie Filling

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tspn salt

1 tspn ground cinnamon

1/2 tspn ground ginger

1/4 tspn ground nutmeg

2 large eggs

** check notes for eggless recipe below

1 can (15 oz) Pumpkin Puree

1 cup (12 oz) Evaporated Milk

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Whipped cream – for garnish

Eggless Version:

Replace eggs by 1/4th cup cornstarch. Add that to the liquid ingredients just as the recipe states below.


Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk.

Pour into the pie shell. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for another 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 before serving.

Pumpkin Puree

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash the exterior of the pumpkin, remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and stringy fibers from the center using a metal spoon.

Coat the cut surface of the pumpkin halves with vegetable oil. Place halves cut side done in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan.

Place the pumpkin in the preheated oven and bake for 60 to 90 minutes. It is done when the flesh feels tender when poked with a fork.

Remove the pumpkin from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool until it can be handled comfortably. Scrape the flesh out of the pumpkin halves and place in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer to blend the flesh until it is pureed.

Drain moisture from the puree by placing it in a sieve lined with paper towels or a double layer of coffee filters. Be sure the sieve is placed in a bowl to catch the liquid as it drains.

Cover the puree with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Allow puree to drain for at least 2 hours. Drain overnight if possible. After draining, the pumpkin puree is ready to use.

For those who’d love to bake their own pie shells, here’s a little tutorial on [http://www.funandfoodcafe.com/2008/10/how-to-make-pie-crust.html]How to Make Pie Crust at home, in case it interests you.

-Mansi Desai http://funandfoodcafe.com

Article Source: funandfoodcafe.com/2008/10/easy-pumpkin-pie-recipe-traditional.html

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mansi_Desai http://EzineArticles.com/?Traditional-Pumpkin-Pie-Recipe&id=1596748

Culinary Cowboy Source: Celebrate Thanksgiving Blogspot, via digg contribution

One source says a true pilgrim pie was a pumpkin that had been scooped of its seeds and filled with apples, butter, cinnamon and the like.  As the pilgrims only found crab apples on their arrival, it may not have been so tasty.

As I have had seafood cooked inside canteloupe and pineapple, it would seem a small pumpkin would make for an interesting container for cooking very interesting main courses, such as individual pork or poultry servings.

Anyway, someone asked me what do with a pumpkin.  There are some ideas.

By the way, if you plan to carve your pumpkin for Halloween and then consume it later, remember two things.  Take care of the flesh right after Halloween, pumpkin gets ugly quickly and the prepared pies actually take to freezing rather nicely (which would take some of the pressure off holiday cooking).  Second, don’t use a candle to light the inside of a Jack o’ Lantern scheduled for consumption.

Topics: Heritage Recipe, Holidays | No Comments »


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