What’s the best pumpkin for pumpkin pie? Maybe not a pumpkin at all.
The equinox is behind us, the thermometer is easing in its efforts to rise, and we can are now faced with the annual barrage of pumpkin-spice everything. I love the magic combination of warm wintry spices dearly, but pumpkin pie Pringles and pumpkin spice dipped Peeps? I just can’t.
The progenitor of all things pumpkin spice is, of course, the pumpkin pie – which was, also of course, inspired by the pumpkin itself. For those of us growing up during the romance-of-canned-things age, pumpkin pie was/is generally made with a can of pumpkin puree. But here’s the irony: Canned pumpkin is generally not even pumpkin, per se, rather a combination of other winter squashes that deliver a rich flavor and good texture. The FDA labeling requirements are a bit slippery here and allow other squashes to be called pumpkin – and besides, a “squash spice latte” doesn’t sound nearly as charming. Which is all to say that swapping in another squash in place of pumpkin for your pumpkin pie is not some kind of autumn sacrilege.
Using canned pumpkin is easy and consistent, for sure – but if you don’t like BPA in your pie and would like to explore the magic of turning a big gorgeous gourd into dessert, here are some options. (I was being a bit hyperbolic, there are companies that make BPA-free canned foods, but you get my point.) Instructions for the how-to at the bottom.
1. Sugar pumpkin
2. Cheese pumpkin
3. Butternut squashthe butternut squash as a quite honorable replacement. In fact, it’s a great default, much because it is so readily available. As I described earlier: It is sweet and earthy, and has a dense flesh that is neither fibrous nor grainy nor watery. Plus, it’s easy to get and also much less harrowing to handle and prepare than pumpkin. All in all, it outpumpkins pumpkin.
4. Acorn squash
5. Kabocha squash
6. Red kuri squash
7. Sweet potatoesmake sweet potato cheesecake.
How to prepareHere's something no one ever tells you: For roughly two cups of puree, use a three-pound squash.
Roasting brings out the flavor and is my favorite way to cook squash for pie – for an even deeper flavor, add a little butter or coconut oil and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Carefully cut your squash in half, remove the seeds (save for roasting!) and strings, then roast it at 400 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes until tender. Remove, cool, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor until smooth – depending on the squash this can take a few minutes.