WEST HARTFORD, CT — Spending more time at home amid the coronavirus pandemic means more time for baking and one option for the peak pumpkin season in Vernon is turning those pumpkins picked at local patches into made-from-scratch pies.
Yeah, yeah, canned pumpkin will do. It’s healthy and packed with the same nutrients, and many of the top cooking websites say the canned stuff up well against homemade pumpkin purée. It does save time.
But think about it. There’s rewarding and even soothing about cutting off the top of a pumpkin and carving out the stringy innards and seeds. It’s one way to show #StressBaking isn’t just a social media hashtag.
Just dress for the occasion, and wear gloves if the sliminess is too much for you.
The first thing you need to do is head to one of the pumpkin patches around West Hartford.
Click here for a guide to the area pumpkin patches.
Southern Living says small, round sugar pumpkins, sometimes called pie or sweet pumpkins, are the best pumpkins for baking. The stem should be brown, but still firmly attached, and check for blemishes and bruising. And don’t get hung up on the color. As a pumpkin matures, its flesh dulls.
JoyFoodSunshine was our first stop on the spin around the internet in search of classic homemade pumpkin pie recipes. It requires an investment in time — a little over two hours — but blogger Laura says on her website the 10-ingredient recipe “is the only pumpkin pie recipe you’ll ever need” and that “literally everyone” who tries it falls in love with it.
“It’s a beautiful blend of creamy, spicy sweet flavors that encompass all that is wonderful about fall,” Laura says.
Everything about this pie is made from scratch, from the crust to the dollop of homemade whipped cream added after it’s been plated. Laura tells you everything you need to know, from the tools you’ll need to how to know when the pie is done.
Sheri B., whose from-scratch pumpkin pie recipe is featured on Food.com, says the roasted pumpkin can be puréed using a sieve, food mill, blender or food processor, but she likes to create the filling with a hand potato masher.
For some cooks, secret pumpkin pie ingredients make for an unforgettable dessert. New York City-based food and wine writer Mandy Naglich’s recipe on Taste Of Home calls for cracked black pepper.
“The best way to preserve the spiciness of pumpkin spice is with freshly cracked black pepper,” Naglich writes. “It adds a robust bite to the traditional spice mix, which comes across subtly in each mouthful of pumpkin pie.”
The pepper won’t make the pie “spicy,” but guests may ask where you got the super-fresh spices, she says.
“Food Hussy” Heather Johnson touts the secret ingredient in her mom’s pumpkin pie recipe. For years, Johnson’s mother refused to share the recipe, but eventually gave it up to her blogger daughter: It’s Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry, a dessert wine.
After you’ve gone to all the trouble of baking from-scratch pumpkin pie, you may decide using a can of pumpkin pie filling is easier. But it’s a coronavirus quarantine memory, and hopefully a pleasant one, that you’ll always have.
This story was generated by the Patch national desk.