I used to think that making a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin would entail a huge amount of work and maybe not taste all that good. Wrong on both counts! After Libby’s pumpkin crop failed several years ago and the cost of canned pumpkin went sky-high, I decided to try a real pumpkin. The results were amazing: light, sweet, smooth, the best pumpkin pie I’d ever had. I even reduced the fat content by using fat-free evaporated milk, and it was still tastier than any previous pie.
The difference is that canned pumpkin is made from big ordinary pumpkins like the ones we carve for Halloween. Sugar pumpkins, on the other hand, are small but incredibly sweet. One medium sugar pumpkin is good for one pie, but you can save time and money if you buy several, seeking out the largest. Prepare the pumpkin as per the recipe below and freeze enough for future pies. I love this fruit so much I started growing it and harvested 20 pumpkins last year, enough for years of pies!
Sugar Pumpkin Pie
Preparing the pumpkin:
Cut a sugar pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Place each half, flesh side down, on a jelly roll baking pan (cookie sheet with sides); add 1 cup of water and bake at 400 degrees F. for about 30 minutes or until a fork can pierce the flesh and it comes away from the skin easily. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh away from the skin and puree it in a food processor.
Crust for one pie:
(Use your favorite recipe, a store-bought crust or the recipe below. Prepare the crust while the pumpkin is baking.)
Cut 1/3 cup butter into 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 2-3 tablespoons water and mix quickly until the flour mixture is moist and clingy, but not too wet. Roll out the dough and place it into a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges and prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork. (If you have a food processor, process the butter, salt and flour, then add the water and pulse a few more times.)
2 cups pureed sugar pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (fat free, 2%, or regular will all work)
1. By hand, beat together all the ingredients except the milk until the pumpkin is a uniform color.
2. Beat in the milk, still by hand, and pour the mixture into your crust.
3. Place in a 450 degree F. oven and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 40-50 minutes until done. (You can test doneness by inserting a knife in the middle. If it comes out clean, the pie is ready.)