Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fresh or Canned This Year? by Mary Small

In the early years of our marriage this was always the question about the yearly pumpkin pie.  My husband had fond memories of fresh pumpkin pies his mother made.  I did not share them; the one pie my mother made fresh was, in her words, “a disaster.”  So if I made a pie, it was always from canned pumpkin.

This year, my colleague, Carol O’Meara, of Boulder County Extension, asked me to help judge pies made from several different types of pumpkins that grow in Colorado.  I love pumpkin pie, so this was an easy “yes”.  Then I thought back to Mom’s “disaster” and greeted the event somewhat apprehensively.

Our first task as judges was to taste the roasted pumpkin product that later went into the pies.  Some were pretty decent, but there was one that was just plain awful.  Compared to the ones before and after it, the sample was almost bitter.  It was very chunky and not smooth textured.

 The color variation of the different pumpkins was amazing. Our sample plates looked like an artist’s palette.  One pumpkin produced a beautiful rust-colored orange product, while another was a pale, pale yellow-orange.  Some reminded me of butternut squash- gold. 

Winter Luxury Pumpkins
Tasting the pies was mostly yummy, but also eye-opening.  My favorite roasted pumpkin (the beautiful rust-colored one) was okay, but had a funny aftertaste.  The winning pie was made from Winter Luxury, an heirloom variety. No wonder it has stood the test of time! The roasted pumpkin that tasted worst didn’t improve much made into a pie.  It was a bit watery, still chunky and still tasteless.  Turns out it was made from a pie-pumpkin variety! Many of us agreed that variety would deter pie-makers from ever trying fresh pumpkin again.  (Maybe that’s the one Mom used…)

So what did I conclude?  The pumpkin is the pie and some types can’t be improved, not even with cream and spices.  I’ve changed my mind about fresh pumpkin pie. Next year, I think I’ll grow Winter Luxury and give it a try.

For more information about the specific pumpkin varieties used in the tasting, check here at Carol O’Meara’s blog .

Here's the story from the Daily Camera!