You Don't Need to Make a Pumpkin Pie From Scratch. Ever.
November 22, 2022 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I need to tell you something. Something very important. Geraldine DeRuiter, James Beard Award Winner, (previously, previously, previously) takes on the Pumpkin Lobby (Big Pumpkin?) and their push for all food pumpkin.

And when the Serious Eats Butternut Pumpkin Pie Recipe from Stella Parks (previously) takes an estimated 4 hours to make, is DeRuiter wrong? Although 2 of those 4 hours is just for cooling the pie.

Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie clocks in with 15 minutes of prep time and 40 minutes of cook time, uses Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin from a can and assumes you have a 9 inch pie shell ready to fill. They, too, recommend a 2 hour chill time, so you’re only shaving about an hour off your prep time by skipping cooking your own pumpkin.

And when Budget Bytes (previously) estimates their Pumpkin Pie costs $7.49 in ingredients on top of a similar 4 hour process, are you really saving anything? Or, you can compare grocery store pumpkin pies and enjoy it pre-made.
posted by carrioncomfort (116 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
People actually...use pumpkins, for pie? The literal thing itself? Instead of the glop in a can? I just find this hard to believe. If Halloween teaches us anything, it's that pumpkins are a pain to debone and just make a mess and anyway you just had a pumpkin around for Halloween, why would you buy another for Thanksgiving?
posted by mittens at 1:03 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


I could write a hundred of these articles for every kind of recipe. What food does this lady cook, she doesn't need to do any of that either. No you don't need to do anything, but fresh baked pumpkin pie tastes good to a lot of people. Nothing tastes good to everyone but this is one of those reliable people-pleasers. Pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkins tastes good as hell. That's the only reason to do anything.
posted by bleep at 1:09 PM on November 22 [28 favorites]


To be clear, the article is also about not needing to make pumpkin pie from a can, either. And honestly... yeah. About the only thing that you can really go above and beyond with is the crust if you're making a traditional pumpkin pie, I feel. I like pumpkin pie all right, but not enough to want to bother with making it from scratch either.
posted by Aleyn at 1:09 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


She's wrong about the cranberries, in my household. Fresh cranberry sauce is pretty easy anyway, even with a few fancy additions like ginger or lemon zest.

But it not worth making the jelly, I'd agree on that.
posted by bonehead at 1:11 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


About the only thing that you can really go above and beyond with is the crust if you're making a traditional pumpkin pie

We have this fight in my house every year, and every year my wife buys a pumpkin pie from Costco, whose crust is basically Play-Doh, and I make a pumpkin pie with a real crust and real (can-derived) filling, and every year my pie is way better according to anyone with taste buds (me).
posted by uncleozzy at 1:14 PM on November 22 [45 favorites]


Some of you endeavored to make pumpkin pie yourselves. It took approximately fourteen hours and inexplicably dirtied every pan in your kitchen. It came out of your oven with a fissure like the San Andreas across the top of it. I say this as someone who bakes a lot: pumpkin pies are notoriously labor intensive and hard to get right.

?????

In my experience pumpkin pies are one of the easiest... just dump everything in the blender and then pour into the crust. The crust is the hard part but that is true of all pies. Also I grow squash so I even make the pumpkin puree from scratch, but I was gonna cook the squash up anyhow so that isn't really "extra" for me. And I still think it is much easier than apple, pear, strawberry, banana cream, etc.

This is way up there in terms of "articles that are the least amount directed towards me" and I knew I shouldn't read it but I did. If anyone wants pumpkin pie you can come over and share mine, I eat it for breakfast, snack and dessert and I'll be making more soon I'm sure.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:14 PM on November 22 [30 favorites]


People actually...use pumpkins, for pie? The literal thing itself? Instead of the glop in a can? I just find this hard to believe.

Oh heck yeah. I mean, I haven't done it myself, but I've turned actual pumpkin into pumpkin bread and pumpkin cake.

If Halloween teaches us anything, it's that pumpkins are a pain to debone and just make a mess and anyway you just had a pumpkin around for Halloween, why would you buy another for Thanksgiving?

I think the original idea was that you waited until right before Halloween to carve your jack-o-lantern, and then you took it right back inside on November 1st and cooked it and saved the puree for your pie.

In case anyone is tempted to try making pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin: the easiest way I've found to cook pumpkin is to just cut the thing in half, scoop out the seeds, and sling both halves onto a cookie sheet and throw it in a hott-ish oven for about 45 minutes. The meat scoops right out of the shell once you've let it cool a bit. Then throw that in a container an let it cool all the way down.

....or if you REALLY wanna cheat...use butternut squash instead of pumpkin. The taste of pumpkin pie is mostly the spices you use in it anyway, and the difference in taste between pumpkin flesh and butternut squash flesh is so negligible that a lot of Libby's canned stuff actually contains some butternut to stretch things out a bit. And you can get the chopped and cubed squash in supermarkets, some of it even frozen. (boil that until soft, then puree it with a stick blender and there you are.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


My read is that if you take it as given that pumpkin pie is culturally expected and if you don't feel invested in making one there are a lot better ways to spend 4 hours of your life than doing so. If people enjoy making pumpkin pie, then more power to you. I don't think she's making an argument against that here though.
posted by Aleyn at 1:14 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


As a southerner, we never had pumpkin pie because we used sweet potatoes. I was shocked when I first had pumpkin pie because it didn't have the depth of flavor. While both pies have the same flavors added, it's the baked sweet potato that really adds yum.
posted by mightshould at 1:15 PM on November 22 [18 favorites]


you just had a pumpkin around for Halloween, why would you buy another for Thanksgiving?

it's almost like pumpkin matures at a specific time of year
posted by Jacqueline at 1:15 PM on November 22 [23 favorites]


The “but pie is hard element of this is the the hint at her true baking preferences . Hard agree, but I also think it’s fun. But it’s nice having someone who is good at cooking tell you to not be so hard on yourself.
posted by q*ben at 1:15 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Sweet potato pie is much easier to make (less deboning) and tastes better. Canned pumpkin glop is a pantry staple here, a can of pumpkin glop in a tomato sauce makes a creamy and sweet pasta sauce, a can of pumpkin glop and a can of coconut milk is the basis for a very nice curry sauce.
posted by kzin602 at 1:15 PM on November 22 [10 favorites]


Normally I'm a huge fan of the Costco $6, 3.5# pie (always with a smear of grape jelly, it's one of the few family requirements we have, despite almost none of us eating grape jelly any other time of the year). That's pretty hard to beat. People talk about the staying power of the $1.50 hot dog, but that $6 pie's only gotten larger over the years for that same price.

That said, this year I'm trying the ChefSteps Pumpkin Pie in a Jar. Why? Well, I can't leave well enough alone. And earlier in the year I made a rhubarb curd in a jar similarly, and it was a big hit. And last year I made the streusel from there, and it was lovely.

I figure with any sort of event-cooking like this, it's a mix of "What do I care about enough to want to have be my centerpiece where I'm putting my own touch on it?", & "What do I want to have there, but am alright with being at a Costco-level baseline so I can save focus for the other stuff?"
posted by CrystalDave at 1:17 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Pumpkin fact: they can sense fear!

Human fear triggers the Spice response in pumpkins. Therefore people who are fearless toward pumpkins produce lackluster pies.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:17 PM on November 22 [14 favorites]


The crust is the hard part but that is true of all pies

Pie crust is super easy, though, if you have a food processor. Tonight I will make probably four pie crusts (for pumpkin, pecan, quiche, and one extra) and it will take maybe 15 minutes, tops, including clean-up. Then tomorrow I'll take them out of the fridge and roll them, which again, is maybe a 10-minute job per pie, if that.

Then I will realize that I don't have any foil pie tins and cry.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:20 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


About the only thing that you can really go above and beyond with is the crust if you're making a traditional pumpkin pie, I feel.

I disagree. I'm fine with using the canned glop, but most store-bought pies use too much sugar. Plus, making it yourself means you can play around with different spice ratios and amounts to suit your personal taste.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:21 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


The delta between the best and worst pumpkin pie in the world is not that big, friends. I guarantee you no one, no single person on the planet, has ever said, “Oh, my favorite dessert is pumpkin pie.” That is an entirely new sentence, never uttered.

LOL. I have never gotten the pumpkin hype. At best, it's Just Okay, a bland squash. Give me butternut any day.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:28 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


My read is that if you take it as given that pumpkin pie is culturally expected and if you don't feel invested in making one there are a lot better ways to spend 4 hours of your life than doing so.

Definitely, it just surprised me that this is the thing she hates making. I always offer to bring pumpkin pie (actually squash pie but if you call it that people act funny about it) because I don't need to get oven access or a spot in the dinner lineup. I'm all for making whatever regardless of tradition. The main course at our Thanksgiving will be bbq ribs this year.

My pumpkin pie secret ingredient is a little orange zest.

Pie crust is super easy, though, if you have a food processor.
I've been making the same crust recipe from Betty Crocker that my grandma taught me when I was a kid... probably time to update my system.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:30 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Can we all just agree that most traditional thanksgiving foods taste bad and we're all just trying to make them somewhat palatable.
posted by sid at 1:31 PM on November 22 [17 favorites]


Pumpkin pie is a thing because if you're growing your own food, pumpkins are huge! And they grow well! You can grow a lot of pumpkin!
This food is [...] a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
and then there's the seeds:
This food is [...] a good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Iron and Copper, and a very good source of Magnesium, Phosphorus and Manganese.
And zinc. Somehow that bot missed that pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc.

If you don't grow food, but you have more time than money, there are a lot of free halloween pumpkins during November in Halloween-with-pumpkin parts of the world. Last year, I found a whole yard waste wheelie bin full of heirloom pumpkins. Just yesterday, I found a massive pumpkin in a concrete ditch.
posted by aniola at 1:32 PM on November 22 [12 favorites]


sid, tell me that you've never had good stuffing without telling me that you've never had good stuffing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:33 PM on November 22 [20 favorites]


Pie crust is not hard. A pastry blender has cut my prep time by 15 mins or so, amazing (I used to use 2 knives which is how my mom taught me - turns out she was just trying to keep me busy.)

My favorite dessert is (sometimes) pumpkin pie. It also makes a fine breakfast.

My new pumpkin pie ingredient is 1/4 tsp of cardamom, it makes the traditional pumpkin pie spice mix deeper and better. Also if you use sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated, you don't have to use sugar, and it makes the custard creamier/shinier.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:34 PM on November 22 [14 favorites]


I find it hilarious when people say they only used canned pumpkin because it is otherwise SO HARD when at the same time they are cooking some butternut squash in the oven like pumpkin isn't also a squash and thus cooked the exact same way

Canned pumpkin is OK but it's not guaranteed to be pumpkin. It can have like >20% pumpkin in it and still be called pumpkin, not that that is bad at all (I've made a lovely reddish pie from some turban squash) but if you, like me, enjoy a nice pumpkin pie, starting with an actual pie pumpkin is not that hard.

I like making the pie. But my wife always makes the pie. She doesn't like eating it, she just always makes it. I don't know why. I would HAPPILY make the pie. But she says making the crust is too much work (she won't let me make crust??) so she uses a storebought crust and a fresh whole pumpkin. Which again, hilarity on my part, as if mixing flour and butter and etc. is really any harder than gutting a pumpkin, peeling it after cooking and then mashing it up?

So she makes the pie and I make everything else for our holiday dinners. Pie crust is too much work, meanwhile I am chopping veggies and necks and giblets and hacking the spine out of a turkey to make gravy. She sees it as work, I see it as a whole lot of fun (because making good food for others brings me joy I guess). Life is weird.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:35 PM on November 22 [9 favorites]


The taste of pumpkin pie is mostly the spices you use in it anyway, and the difference in taste between pumpkin flesh and butternut squash flesh is so negligible that a lot of Libby's canned stuff actually contains some butternut to stretch things out a bit. And you can get the chopped and cubed squash in supermarkets, some of it even frozen. (boil that until soft, then puree it with a stick blender and there you are.)

Libby’s is actually Dickinson squash, a breed they developed specifically. The FDA doesn’t differentiate between pumpkins and squashes, so whether that counts is up to the reader/botanist.
posted by General Malaise at 1:36 PM on November 22 [10 favorites]


(Also now that my son is older, we need to start making two pumpkin pies, because either he or I will eat the whole goddamned thing if left alone with it)
posted by caution live frogs at 1:37 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


OK, I'll be contrarian enough to say it: My favorite dessert is pumpkin pie. But not the sort you're used to with the dense, mud-like consistency. I have a family recipe that involves whipping up egg whites separately and folding them into the pumpkin mixture for a light, fluffy, souffle-like texture. I can just inhale that stuff.

I usually make it with canned pumpkin, but I've done it from scratch too. The great thing about doing it from scratch is that you don't have to limit yourself to pumpkin; pretty much any winter squash is pieable, and it's a great way to use all the extra feral squash that seeded itself in the garden while you weren't looking. Yeah, butternut squash makes a good pie, but the pumpkin/squash has never really been the primary flavor of pie, has it?
posted by baf at 1:39 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Pumpkin pie is excellent for breakfast! And yes, an easy pie to make once you get the crust done.

My issue is always that blind baking my pie crust results in slumping, no matter how long I put it in the freezer or how many pie beans I use. Tastes fine, but always, always, slumps.
posted by suelac at 1:39 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Store bought pumpkin pie almost never has enough ginger, nutmeg and cloves. I will try adding cardamom this year.
posted by rikschell at 1:45 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Pumpkin pie is excellent for breakfast!

ftfy
posted by gwint at 1:47 PM on November 22 [9 favorites]


suelac, all my pie crusts were slumping for a while, and then I realized I was adding extra butter on the principle that more butter = better taste, when actually following the recipe gives better results. I needed correct proportions to have the thing hold its shape.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:49 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


I make my pumpkin pies with a recipe from a 1907 cookbook. It is significantly more spiced than any commercial pumpkin pie. It calls for a large quantity of many different spices, and when you think "surely that is enough" the recipe calls for more.

I find store-bought ones much too bland.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:50 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


Pie pumpkins are not the same as Halloween pumpkins - it's not that if you cook a Halloween pumpkin it will kill you or anything, but pie pumpkins are fleshier and easier to cut up.

My own feeling is that the difference between home roasted and pureed pumpkin with pie spices and canned pumpkin with pie spices is pretty negligible. It's much more like making your own cranberry jelly versus canned or using frozen spinach in a spinach lasagna than like a grocery store apple pie versus a homemade one.

Also my feeling is that a good cookie crumb crust (maybe cinnamon cookies) is better than a pastry crust for pumpkin pie and much more reliable.

I am making a banana carmel pie with a crumb crust for Thanksgiving, actually.
posted by Frowner at 1:51 PM on November 22 [11 favorites]


I've done both the libby's version and the bake the organic heirloom pumpkin yourself variety and the canned version was the hands down winner with the whole family, including, reluctantly, me. My aunt with dementia took one bite and said, "It tastes like dirt! You made dirt pie!" I would rather use the real thing, almost always, but not in pumpkin pie ever again. But baking regular pie is not hard? I generally love baking pies.

You know what is hard? Hard is a damn gluten free crust. My daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease about three years ago and so in anticipation of our first thanksgiving together since, last week I made a gluten free cherry pie tried to make a gluten free cherry pie and ended up with some super dubious cherry tartlet things in a muffin tin. My daughter laughed at me and said, Mom, just buy the gluten free graham cracker crusts and so that is what we are doing - pumpkin, and for a change, key lime - this year.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:52 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: Pumpkin pie is an annual debate which is fine but the best stuffing I ever had was in Florida.
posted by clavdivs at 2:00 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Well shit. I guess I don’t need this whole universe I just invented then.
posted by notoriety public at 2:01 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


I've done both the libby's version and the bake the organic heirloom pumpkin yourself variety and the canned version was the hands down winner with the whole family, including, reluctantly, me.

Same. Every time I've tried to significantly improve on the good ol' back of the Libby's can recipe, it has not led to enough improvement to make it worth the additional effort and/or expense. The only change I've stuck with is to use more spices to taste, though this year I will perhaps try the masala chai spiced variety that is now on the back of the Libby's can. Libby's, clearly, know what they're about and I will be sticking with their back of the can recipe and their plain canned pumpkin-that's-actually-some-other-squash.
posted by yasaman at 2:08 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


One year we sought out genuine pie pumpkins and went to all the trouble of cleaning them and pureeing the heck out of the flesh. That went into a from-scratch pumpkin pie, the result of which was indistinguishable from one made with canned pumpkin, other than being slightly stringier despite all of the pureeing. 100% not worth it unless you just want the experience.
posted by jedicus at 2:09 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I've done both the libby's version and the bake the organic heirloom pumpkin yourself variety and the canned version was the hands down winner with the whole family, including, reluctantly, me.

My mom always said that her grandmother always said to use the canned, just because the moisture content is consistent. If you roast your own pumpkin, it's a a roll of the dice. (And, yeah, the strings.)
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:12 PM on November 22 [8 favorites]


Are people really spending a lot of time preparing food they don't like to eat?
posted by bleep at 2:13 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


>P.S. – (whisper-shouting) You don’t need to make cranberry sauce, either.

This is the literary equivalent of /s, right?
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 2:19 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


These are the tricks I have learned for making an awesome pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin:

1.) Do use a pie pumpkin not a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. There is a difference. Pie pumpkins are sweeter and more tender and have a better flesh-to-seeds ratio. (You can of course use delicata or butternut or whatever makes you happy to make a squash pie, but pie pumpkins really do have that name for a reason; don't knock fresh pumpkin in pie till you've tried pie with an actual pie pumpkin.)

2.) Do not use the stringy parts of the pumpkin. DO NOT USE THE STRINGY PARTS OF THE PUMPKIN. Okay? That is not the part you are meant to use in pie, at all. You want to use the smooth flesh of the pumpkin that is attached to the pumpkin skin. The strings go into the compost. (Save the seeds to roast if you have time for that though because roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious.)

3.) Steam it don't roast it. After I remove the seeds and strings, I cut the pumpkin into pieces and use a vegetable steamer to cook it. Steaming obliterates stringiness, preserves moisture, and also makes it very easy to remove the flesh from the skin. After steaming, let it cool enough to handle, then remove the skin, then mash it with a potato masher to mashed potato texture.

4.) Make sure you let the steamed mashed pumpkin cool to room or fridge temp before you mix it into the pie custard to avoid curdling the egg / messing with consistency of the cornstarch (the typical egg sub in a vegan pie).

A pie made with steamed fresh pumpkin absolutely does taste different from one made with the canned stuff. Not that I would criticize anyone for using the canned stuff, or buying a pre-made pie, to save time. Do what makes you happy! Holiday cooking should not ever be torture.
posted by BlueJae at 2:36 PM on November 22 [12 favorites]


I absolutely love pumpkin pie and I agree with her that a bought pumpkin pie is almost always just as good as homemade with canned pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin is higher variance. Last year my husband randomly bought a Costco pumpkin pie a week after Thanksgiving and it was maybe the best idea he ever had. So fun to just have a pumpkin pie around to nosh on as one pleases without any, like, holiday baggage.
posted by potrzebie at 2:41 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I'm currently debating whether I need to continue making the Silky Sweet Potato Pie recipe from Serious Eats/Stella Parks. This also has DIY condensed milk but the sweet potato is cooked in the milk so it becomes marvelously caramelly. I've been making this recipe for 4-5 years, converted my entire family from pumpkin to sweet potato (DO IT!!!), but it is SO DIFFICULT. It requires a not-insignificant amount of algebra! Last year I swore to my family that they should savor it because I wasn't ever making it again. But now I'm looking at other sweet potato pie recipes and I'm stressing that they won't be as delicious...
posted by acidic at 2:51 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Every year when we visit the local* pumpkin patch we also pick up some butternut squash and I make a big soup with it, and that goes great. Have also experimented with roasting various squashes to varying degrees of success, but the soup is always a hit.

* local-ish. It involves a ferry trip.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


suelac, all my pie crusts were slumping for a while, and then I realized I was adding extra butter on the principle that more butter = better taste, when actually following the recipe gives better results

Well, fascinating! I use the pie crust recipe from Cooks Illustrated, which is 2.5 cups flour, 3/4 c butter, and 2/3 cup shortening (plus salt & sugar). Maybe if I up the shortening and cut back on the flour it will hold together better?
posted by suelac at 3:00 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Store bought pumpkin pie almost never has enough ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

100% this.

Also, my family has a spiced walnut crust recipe for pumpkin pies which is delicious. And easier than traditional pie crust.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 3:04 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]


Do not use the stringy parts of the pumpkin.

My mother would say that for baking, there's no difference between Jack-o-Lantern and pie (or 'sugar', as I see them labeled) pumpkins, and I'm wondering if that was true during her lifetime, but no longer. Because the (non-pie) pumpkin I got for this year's Jack-o-Lantern seemed to be much more stringy and fibrous than usual.
posted by Rash at 3:05 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Human fear triggers the Spice response in pumpkins. Therefore people who are fearless toward pumpkins produce lackluster pies.

This is the little known origin of the phrase “the spice must flow”.
posted by mhoye at 3:09 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Also, my family has a spiced walnut crust recipe

WUT? Surely it is against the rules to just announced that casually and not also share the recipe. Oh rather, might you please be willing to share that recipe? It sounds delicious!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:16 PM on November 22 [14 favorites]


Frowner, r.e. Cookie vs. pastry crust, I agree. Mrs. Caviar is about to make her pumpkin pie with shortbread cookie crust, which is mmmmmmm . My biggest issue with store pies is the weird play-doh crusts as mentioned above. She uses canned pumpkin though, and the Libby’s spice recipe.
posted by caviar2d2 at 3:22 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


WUT? Surely it is against the rules to just announced that casually and not also share the recipe. Oh rather, might you please be willing to share that recipe? It sounds delicious!

That is completely fair, but I'm not finding it in my apartment. Which means I will copy it and bring it back with me later on this week.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 3:34 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Re: cookie crusts - make your pumpkin pie crust with ginger snaps. This is the best way.
posted by darchildre at 3:51 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


My husband is allergic to eggs so I usually make a pumpkin spice panna cotta in a tart shell. Last year, one of his daughter's made a pumpkin pie with aquafaba (aka chickpea juice) and it was really good so I have been demoted from pie maker to salad maker this year.
posted by vespabelle at 3:52 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


There’s no need for writers to write anything from scratch, ever. So many words abound.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:56 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]


Our Northeastern Rural Swamp Yankee punkin pies were made from scratch, often from home-grown punkins. We also had squash pie.
posted by jgirl at 3:58 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Yum yams?
posted by NotLost at 4:00 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


If the government has allowed that lying sack of liars at Libby’s to get away with lying this whole time, makes one wonder what else they’re letting people lie about.

Make America Gourd Again!
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 4:05 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


I’ve never had a good pie pumpkin. I only use kobocha, Hubbard, or blue bell, and people always comment on the flavor.

Store bought is fine though. When Trader Joe’s had 99 cent, 9-inch pumpkin pies in the early 2000s I practically lived off of them.
posted by Headfullofair at 4:08 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


It was super, duper fun as a kid to hollow out the pumpkin for making the jack o lantern on Halloween, cook the insides of the pumpkin, and make a pie. I think we did it once. Then back to the canned pumpkin. I think it's worth doing once just to have the experience.
posted by subdee at 4:14 PM on November 22


“If Halloween teaches us anything, it's that pumpkins are a pain to debone and just make a mess and anyway you just had a pumpkin around for Halloween, why would you buy another for Thanksgiving?”

Ugh, pumpkin bones are the worst.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:15 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


I'm on my second pue crust ban... maybe I'll be allowed to make one in 2025 again... 😞

I'm really particular to how my pie crust comes out and nobody wants to see me do it for a few years.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:42 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Update: I made the crusts, but sadly it took more like 25 minutes to make and clean up rather than 15. And I even have pie tins! So surely something else will go wrong instead!
posted by uncleozzy at 5:14 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Pumpkin Bones sounds like the title of an alt-Folk album.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:22 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Are people really spending a lot of time preparing food they don't like to eat?

Yes. Not only that, they’re often travelling to somewhere they don’t like to go to, to spend time with people whose company they don’t enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:28 PM on November 22 [28 favorites]


My mom made pumpkin pies one year from pumpkins we grew. We learned that you need to use pumpkins that are meant to be made into a pie, not pumpkins that are meant to be hollowed out and still survive a couple weeks in the elements. My mom is a really, really good baker, too, so it was definitely the type of pumpkins.
posted by tllaya at 6:01 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


The word pumpkin looks funny if you see it repeated enough.
posted by Keith Talent at 6:11 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Suelac, it is the fats that make the pie slump. So not more fat, less. Like knock the shortening down to a half cup, instead of 2/3 cup. Make sure the crust is cold before you bake it, and throw it into a hot oven.

Sincerely,
Oyéah
posted by Oyéah at 6:17 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Oh, give me pumpkin crunch cake any day over gloopy pie!
posted by Lyn Never at 6:26 PM on November 22


People actually...use pumpkins, for pie? The literal thing itself? Instead of the glop in a can? I just find this hard to believe.

I'm on a pretty tight food budget. Every fall people give me tons of leftover squash and pumpkins, or sell it dirt cheap after Halloween. Using that instead of going out and buying a can just makes economic sense. I've been cooking it all month and putting it in the freezer. I've got one little butternut left that I'm turning into pie tomorrow, because fresh is, albeit extremely marginally, better than frozen. (The frozen seems to work slightly better than fresh in muffins and quick breads.) You just cut it in half, scoop the guts out, brush it with oil, put it cut side down on a cookie sheet with some water, and bake at 350 for about an hour. The skin gets nice and loose so you can peel it off with your fingers.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:55 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I'm with all the other cooks - it's nice to make a pumpkin pie once from a pie pumpkin or a halloween pumpkin just to say you've done it but it just doesn't taste that much better than the can from Libbys. And pumpkin pie is probably my favorite pie, so the store bought ones don't cut it.

And sweet potatoes in most forms are not to my taste - they are far too sweet vs a baked potato, and that dish with the marshmellow on top is terrible. The fries version of sweet potatoes are ok to mix things up occasionally.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:56 PM on November 22


We learned that you need to use pumpkins that are meant to be made into a pie, not pumpkins that are meant to be hollowed out and still survive a couple weeks in the elements.

Samantha the Cat was dark orange, weighed six pounds, and could curl herself into a 360-degree ball. That's how she got the nickname Pie-Punkin.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:57 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Oh, also - it is a truth universally acknowledged by everyone who is me that the recipe on the back of the can/package is always the best recipe. Those home economists in the test kitchen know what they're doing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:01 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


True story, we were never allowed to carve the Halloween pumpkins because they had to be preserved for the pumpkin pies. We were only allowed to paint or color on the outside, so they wouldn’t spoil before thanksgiving. I was 18 in college before I ever got to carve my own jack o lantern…. Sigh.

I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:22 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]


P.s. and I still think they made the pies from cans of Libby! It was all just a ruse so my parents didn’t have to deal with the carving mess!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:23 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


OK to start with don't use the jack-o-lantern pumpkin, those are too watery and lacking in flavor. Use one of those squat green ones or the Japanese ones or a good squash. If you get a biggish one you can process it at once and throw the remainder in the freezer. Make tortellini with it, or soup.
Since pumpkin pie is basically a custard and I was already going to be making a pecan pie for Thanksgiving I used to make other custard-based desserts: pumpkin creme brulee, pumpkin croquembouche, pumpkin pasteis de nata. But my daughter has declared pumpkin pie her favorite so it is back to pie.
Earlier in the fall I was smoking a pastrami and figured I would try smoking alongside a Japanese pumpkin, filled with chestnut, bread and sausage stuffing, and sealed up again with skewers holding the top on. The result was hands down one of the best things I have ever made. The flesh was so creamy with a nice smoky flavor. The leftover pumpkin got blitzed into a pie the next day, retaining that smoky flavor. So unexpected but so good.
posted by St. Oops at 9:46 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Oh, and a tip for other expats trying to figure out a suitable cranberry sauce: you can totally reconstitute dried cranberries (if you can find those) and they cook up great. Just cut the added sugar because the dried ones are already sweetened.
posted by St. Oops at 9:53 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Yum yams?

Dammit Elaine, that was the yam-yam.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:38 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Libby’s, Schmibby’s. The raison d'être of any pumpkin pie is not the pumpkin filling, but for it to provide the underlying foundation for a double-thick top layer of whipped cream or extra-creamy Cool Whip. Cake and frosting have the same relationship.
posted by cenoxo at 10:55 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]


I love pumpkin pie- not sure it is my favorite dessert, but definitely top ten. Even when it's been just the two of us for Thanksgiving I make two pies so that for a week at least I can eat a slice of cold pumpkin pie, holding it in my hand, for breakfast.

The two must have spices for me are fresh grated ginger and cardamom- along with Mexican cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. I use canned pumpkin and sometimes a frozen crust because it's the filling I care most about.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:05 PM on November 22


Pumpkin pies have only bottom crust, and stewing pastry crust in pie juice (even blind baked first) is just a sad reminder that top crust is what's really delicious. And pumpkin (*) custard doesn't structurally need a bottom crust to serve. So skip it, and use the pie dough to make delicious ginger-sugar snail logs as second dessert.

Also whipped cream is crucial, yes.

(*) grocery store butternut squash is on par with the pie-grade pumpkins like Winter Luxury, in my opinion. If you have connections for pie pumpkins, see if you can't use them for Tetsukabuto, which is amazing in pie or just eating the mash with a spoon. And yes, the canned is just fine and its moisture consistency is handy.
posted by away for regrooving at 11:14 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


To cross the Metafilter streams: throw the halved and cored squash in your slow cooker!
posted by away for regrooving at 11:16 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


is it time to get rid of the Thanksgiving turkey?

It seems Thanksgiving is under assault.
posted by mumimor at 1:45 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]




Steam it don't roast it. After I remove the seeds and strings, I cut the pumpkin into pieces and use a vegetable steamer to cook it. Steaming obliterates stringiness, preserves moisture, and also makes it very easy to remove the flesh from the skin.

I actually steam my pumpkin as well, but I didn't want to assume everyone had a means to steam things.

As for crust: I intellectually acknowledge that crust is a fairly simple process. I have a decent enough food processor to make it even easier for myself. ....And I still nevertheless use the pre-made refrigerated Pillsbury's crust that comes in two rolled-up tubes, because I'm not as passionate about the crusts on things. I do make my own crust on rare occasions, if there's a recipe which calls for an unusually-flavored crust or a crust made from an "alternate" method (i.e., a cookie-crumb crust for some kind of custard pie, or a "leftover turkey" pie made using a stuffing-mix-crumb crust, or even a "crust" made of thinly-sliced potato), but for most fruit pies, savory pies, etc.? Screw that, I'm using the pre-made crust shortcut and getting to work. Particularly if it's a pie I've never made before and I want to be sure that at least one element will be somewhat acceptable.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:27 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Our expected Thanksgiving guests will not be coming (yes, for the usual pandemic reason) so it is just 2 of us rather than 4 tomorrow. The only thing I decided to scratch from the menu is pumpkin pie. My spouse doesn't really like it, and apple crisp is great for breakfast, too.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:27 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Oh gosh darn it.

I don't have any pumpkin for a pie.

I guess I'll just have to make a dark chocolate tart instead and serve it warm with a little dab of vanilla chantilly cream.

I apologize in advance.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:04 AM on November 23 [5 favorites]


Everyone knows that the best pie on Thanksgiving is Pecan Pie. (Make it with golden syrup instead of Karo. It's amazing.)
posted by oddman at 5:43 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


To cross the Metafilter streams: throw the halved and cored squash in your slow cooker!


This is essentially my soup recipe, give or take an onion, a few other ingredients (varies each time) and some stock.
posted by Artw at 6:15 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


A sorta amusing article in the same vein as the "Turkey sucks, amirite?" articles that appear all over the web this time of year. Insert shrug emoticon here.

I like pumpkin pie and turkey and all the other traditional Thanksgiving types of food. I only eat them around this time of year, and they are enjoyable for me to eat, and help me remember my childhood and my grandmother, and even my great grandmother and the general concept of family (no matter how problematic my family was growing up). I am a non-religious atheist who still puts up an Xmas tree almost every year for the same reasons. Plus I like the glowy lights in my home for one month a year.

Also: It's easy to do any kind of cooking poorly. It's possible to make moist, flavorful turkey and good pumpkin pie. I get that the web is the place for snark, though. So enjoy your lack of pumpkin pie, I guess.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:20 AM on November 23 [4 favorites]


As an aside, long pie pumpkin is, well, pretty great pumpkin for pie. I recommend it with mascarpone for extra decadence. Bake the pumpkin for an hour on a sheet, spoon out the innards, blend it a tiny bit (it can get a little stringy otherwise) and it's good to go for the rest of the recipe.

I'm sure other pie pumpkins are good as well! Only tried with "long pie" ones.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 6:31 AM on November 23


My wife and I made a pumpkin pie from actual pumpkin glop once, and it took like six hours to cook properly in our crappy electric stove.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:56 AM on November 23


I do not make pumpkin pie. I make gooseneck squash (varietal of C. moschata, also called "Pennsylvania Dutch Squash, they are quite large, bulbous at one end, with a curving neck) pie.

Squash prep: Hunk the squash into reasonable-sized hunks to fit in a 9x13 cake pan. You will need to do more than one batch if squash is of normal size and you only have one 9x13 cake pan. Basically, cut off stem end, cut stem into like two, MAYBE 3 pieces, cut each of those in half. Cut bulbous seed cavity area into quarters, remove seeds and stringy bits. Don't peel anything, that's wrong.

Bake squash in cake pan in oven until quite soft. (It is juicy and if you try this with a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan or something you will have squash drippings all over your oven floor. Use a deeper pan to prevent the spills.)

Remove squash from oven, place in bowl to cool off. (discard juice in baking pan) Repeat baking with other pieces until all pieces are baked soft. When cooked squash is cool, remove skin (this should be EASY to do). Puree squash using a hand cranked food mill or blender or food processor. Failing all else, you can push it through a sieve, too. Bag in "heaping 1 cup" amounts and freeze for use later.

The pie itself is a kind of custardy affair with whipped-to-soft-peaks egg whites. Seasoning is cinnamon and nutmeg in about a 2 to 1 ratio for that. This is a much lighter and fluffier pie than traditional pumpkin pie but it's what we eat. No condensed milk, just regular milk, eggs, cornstarch, flour, sugar, aforementioned spices, and the squash puree.

Pro tip: If you want, this can be made as "squash custard" and just baked straight up without a pie crust in case you want a gluten-free or lower-carb/lower-calorie dessert to offer folks. It's good plain or with whipped cream. I like it enough to make it multiple non-holiday times per year. Also, it's done in about 50 minutes and then you don't have to DO anything with it, just let it cool on top of the stove. I don't know about all this "six hours" bs but wow, that's a lot of work for a pie.
posted by which_chick at 7:13 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


I've made pie with an actual pie pumpkin before. It was an heirloom varietal we received in our farm box. I roasted it until the flesh was quite brown and caramelized before processing it and baking it in a tart shell with some home made pastry. Turned out real good, lots of caramelly flavours. Would recommend, way better than store bought glop. Did not take six hours or whatever. Would still pick other pie flavours over pumpkin 90% of the time.
posted by sid at 7:31 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Pumpkin pie is so good. Just don't use the ready to bake canned stuff, which is too sweet and bland. Canned pumpkin is fine, use dark brown sugar and bump up the ginger. My last purchase of TJ's ginger snaps was sadly stale, but will make a nice crust. People will think you're Martha Stewart if you roll out some crust, cut shapes w/ cookie cutters, and decorate the pumpkin pie. I have a little maple leaf cutter, so I add some maple syrup.

I love the Thanksgiving meal, esp.stuffing and gravy. I like roast turkey, squash, cranberry jelly(from a can), mashed potatoes, and pies. If someone insists on the green bean casserole with mushroom soup, just use frozen green beans and add more of those crispy onions, which are the best part. It's pleasant to use pretty dishes and glasses, and have sparkling wine.

Pie for Breakfast Day is Friday, and is worth celebrating; pumpkin pie will feel healthy. Turkey sandwiches with horseradish mayo. Warming up a bowl of stuffing and gravy and watching whatever sentimental movie is on. The soup made from the leftover mashed potatoes, creamed onions, and broccoli, with broth from the turkey remains, is the best soup ever.
posted by theora55 at 7:41 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


her grandmother always said to use the canned, just because the moisture content is consistent.

Just watch out for shrinkflation. “Betty Henry, a consumer in London, Ont., has been using E.D Smith's Pumpkin Pie Filling for 50 years to make pies for Thanksgiving. She says she noticed a difference in the filling as soon as she opened the can this year.”
posted by oulipian at 7:54 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


mygothlaundry, I'm in the same boat for gluten free pies. I've been using the America's Test Kitchen Gluten-Free cookbooks! The recipes are a bit finicky for my taste, but the pies are definitely the best I've made since I started this.

Here's their recipe for a single crust pie.

Gluten-free dough can be pretty fragile and "sticky," so I'll often roll the chilled dough out on a cutting board between two layers of plastic wrap, one on the board and the other between the dough and the rolling pin, repositioning the top layer frequently as I go. Then I peel off the top layer, flip it over and arrange it into the pie plate, and then take off the other plastic layer from what is now the top. That helps me keep the dough in one piece.
posted by divide_by_cucumber at 8:49 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


(Make [pecan pie] with golden syrup instead of Karo. It's amazing.)

and a tablespoon or 3 of blackstrap molasses! And maybe a little dark rum.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:52 AM on November 23


Welp, I’ve been baking all morning and just opened the microwave to find a bowl of melted (and re-solidified) butter and said, huh, I wonder what that was for.

So that’s the pie error for the year. Pretty minor, all considered. (I think it was the pecan pie filling.)
posted by uncleozzy at 8:53 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Somewhat off topic, but where do people find the time to make all this stuff from scratch??? Between work and the million other things in my life, I'm doing well to cook anything at all most days. Maybe that's just me - I know I'm not exactly the audience these sort of articles are written for.

Regarding pies, I did make a fairly simple pumpkin pie for a pre-Thanksgiving luncheon we had today here in Sweden and yes it was all canned! Sourcing canned pumpkin was quite the chore but the rest of the ingredients weren't too difficult (except frozen pie crust - found some pre-made dough that's pretty close though). Happy to say it was a huge hit, all my Swede co-workers loved it! Definitely doing one again next year.
posted by photo guy at 9:43 AM on November 23 [3 favorites]


it's almost like pumpkin matures at a specific time of year

"Homer, you knuckle-beak, I told you a hundred times you got to sell your pumpkin futures before Halloween, before."
posted by eckeric at 10:24 AM on November 23 [3 favorites]


Ick stuffing. Wet bread with celery. The best part of not living in the States anymore is not having to do Thanksgiving.
posted by dame at 12:05 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Can we all just agree that most traditional thanksgiving foods taste bad and we're all just trying to make them somewhat palatable.

What, what, what?? Absolutely not! I'd eat Thanksgiving food all the time if I had the patience to prepare it. Even when it's not great, it's still delicious!
posted by hydra77 at 12:05 PM on November 23 [8 favorites]


For those who are having trouble with slumping pie crust, Melissa Clark recommends freezing the crust for 30 minutes to 24 hours to avoid the slump. [NYT Cooking link to her recipe for the ultimate pumpkin pie, which does include making the filling from scratch.]

She also recommends a metal pie tin to avoid needing to blind bake the crust. It won't get as crispy with glass apparently.
posted by hydra77 at 12:09 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


(Make [pecan pie] with golden syrup instead of Karo. It's amazing.)

and a tablespoon or 3 of blackstrap molasses! And maybe a little dark rum.


By the way, here's my favorite very rich and dense pecan pie recipe:

1 large/deep-dish or 2 medium graham cracker pie crusts
2 eggs
1/2 C dark corn syrup
1/4 C melted butter
1/3 C honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp molasses
1 C pecans (or more, don't hold back!)
2 Tbsp dark or aged rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush pie crust(s) with egg yolk - be sure to fill in any cracks, because if the syrup leaks through it bonds extremely well to the pie tin. Partially bake (5-7 min), remove from oven, and set aside. Reduce oven to 375°F.

Combine everything but the pecans and beat thoroughly.

Pour desired amount of pecans into the crust(s) (maybe 1/2 to 2/3 full), holding back a few non-broken halves. Fill the rest of the way with the syrup then decorate the top with the held-back pecans. Bake 50-60 min or until knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool until filling sets.

Serve topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:14 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]


I love Thanksgiving food. I do not love all of it equally, I am not a fan of pumpkin pie but if you are, that’s delightful. I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow because I’m in Sweden. I did not want to go to all the fuss as a single person who dislikes cooking living in a country that sells turkeys at a huge premium. That’s sad, I really enjoy eating and I am sorry that I will not be sitting down at a friends table tomorrow enjoying a nice holiday meal with people I like. Happy almost Thanksgiving!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:38 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


I love pumpkin pie! I'm in New Zealand, though, so canned pumpkin (especially Libby's, Libby's is a brand I'm aware of only from a brief detour to see the Libby's Fruit Can in Sunnyvale) is simply not a thing.
I make pumpkin pie by cutting, coring, and roasting an actual pumpkin (usually crown or buttercup), tossing the pumpkin chunks in a blender with the eggs and cream and sugar and spices, and blending until verrrrrrry frothy throughout. Gives a similar texture to what baf describes with less hassle.
A short piecrust is the easiest thing I make. One part butter to three parts flour by mass, add a 50-50 mixture of water and vodka until it's just barely damp enough to hold together in a ball. Chill it, put an icepack on the kitchen counter, freeze a glass rolling pin. Roll the whole thing out very thin, very cold, and freeze solid for an hour before baking. No beans required.
It always cracks on top but that's a perfect excuse to cover it in whipped cream.
posted by ngaiotonga at 12:01 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]


We always made the Libby’s pie and then covered each slice in homemade whipped cream - and I mean COVERED, like, no orange is visible whatsoever, an inch thick on top, sides covered too. I need to do that for myself this weekend, the family’s far away and most people apparently think this is insane behavior.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:07 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]


I made my pie this morning. It's actually still in the oven. First time for me, surprisingly. My dad always did it. I used the Libby recipe but bumped up the spices big time. And blind baked the crust. I hate soggy bottoms.
posted by kathrynm at 7:08 AM on November 24


Made my crustless pies last night, and they're chillin' in the fridge. Cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg and cloves, and that gave thee thy jolly red nose.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:19 AM on November 24


sid, tell me that you've never had good stuffing without telling me that you've never had good stuffing.

I don't think a damp baked bread dish, extracted out of turkey's body cavity, can ever compete with, for example, light-as-air yorkshire puddings with a crusty exterior. It's just a bad dish that we go to great pains to make 'ok'.
posted by sid at 12:07 PM on November 24 [2 favorites]


I love stuffing but we have never shoved it up a bird's bum. It is crunchy bread goodness, optimally.

My cousin got pumpkin pie from Milk Bar and it was the most flavorful pumpkin I have had.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:04 PM on November 24 [2 favorites]


Stuffing should never actually be stuffed. It should be baked in a shallow dish to promote maximal browning. When done right, it is the best traditional Thanksgiving dish bar none.
posted by mollweide at 8:33 PM on November 24 [2 favorites]


Nah, the best stuffing is when you make it in the bird plus another shallow dish and mix the two together.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:54 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


And THEN you put it in the oven to brown on top while you make the gravy.
posted by suelac at 11:08 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


When done right, it is the best traditional Thanksgiving dish bar none.

*mumble mumble* something about damning with faint praise :)
posted by sid at 1:04 PM on November 25 [2 favorites]


I'm not enamored with a lot of traditional Thanksgiving food, but I genuinely enjoy good stuffing with gravy. And I'm not even talking fancied up stuffing with sausage, or nuts, or oysters, just plain old bread stuffing.
posted by mollweide at 2:30 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]


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