A Brief History of Pumpkin Pie With a Recipe by Rebecca Wood

“For pottage and puddings and custard and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnip are common supplies:
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins, we should be undoon”

Those words were uttered in 1639 by a pilgrim describing the hardships of the New World. Pumpkins are native to the New World and related to squashes, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. Early references go back many centuries, and the name pumpkin originated with the Greek word for “large melon,” or “pepon,” meaning “cooked by the sun.” The French nasalized “pepon” and it became “pompon.” Then the English changed “pompon” to “pumpion,” which can be found in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. New World colonists changed “pumpion” into “pumpkin.”

In the New World, the pumpkin’s ancestors can be traced back 9,000 years to Mexico. Native Americans used pumpkins for food long before any European settlers arrived by drying strips of pumpkin and cutting them into mats. They also cut strips of pumpkin and roasted them on an open fire to get them through the long winters. As centuries passed they learned many ways of enjoying the inner meat of the delicious and nutritious winter squash: baked, boiled, roasted, fried, parched, or dried. They also used pumpkin seeds for medicine. The Native American term for pumpkin is “isquotm squash.”

The pumpkin pie originated when the colonists cut off the head of the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices, and honey. Then they baked the pumpkin in hot ashes. Also, early colonists used pumpkin meat as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.

Who knows who made the first pumpkin pie? But we’re sure glad they did. Today’s cook can bake a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch in no time at all. A homemade pumpkin pie is healthier and tastes much better than a commercial pie. Also, unlike canned pumpkin, fresh pumpkin tastes livelier and requires less sugar. Use organic sugar, butter, and pastry flour for additional flavor and nutrition.

With pumpkin pie season right around the corner, you may decide to venture out into the culinary world and bake your first pumpkin pie. Here’s some nutritional information from noted cook Rebecca Wood of the Ashland Cooking School, along with her recipe for making a pumpkin pie from scratch.

“For a real treat, start with a small sugar pumpkin available from your greengrocer. Bred for their extra sweet flavor and silky texture, sugar pumpkins are ideal for pie. While you can turn any pumpkin into a pie, remember that a large pumpkin is often small in flavor,” according to Ms. Wood.

“Pumpkin pie from scratch enables you to enjoy a homey treat – roasted pumpkin seeds. This great-tasting snack is a superior source of omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamin A.”
Here’s the recipe for Pumpkin Pie from Scratch:

Makes one 9-inch single-crust pie
For the crust:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted, cultured organic butter, well chilled
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

1 sugar pumpkin
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups organic cream
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350�°F.

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch cubes and add them to the flour mixture. With your fingertips, quickly and deftly rub the butter into the flour to make a dry, crumbly mixture. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the !mixture. Using a fork, rapidly stir the dough until it gathers into clumps. If the mixture seems dry, add more water to hold the dough together. Gently form the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator to rest and chill for 15 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, place the pumpkin halves in a pan, shell side up, and bake for one hour or until the pumpkin is tender and exudes liquid and the shell starts to sag. Scrape the pulp from the shell and pur�©e it with a fork or potato masher or in a blender. Measure 2 cups of the pur�©e and set it aside. Reserve any additional pumpkin for another use.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and , starting from the center out, roll the dough to about 2 inches larger than the size of the pan. Loosen the pastry, fold it in half, lift it and unfold it into the pan. Press it into place, trim off the excess dough and crimp the edges.

Increase the temperature of the oven to 425�°F.

Om a large mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the pur�©e and the remaining ingredients and stir to blend. Pour the mixture into the dough-lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350�°F and bake an additional 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
“May you be well nourished.” And please feel free to go to my website: http://www.rwood.com/Recipes/Pumpkin_Pie.htm

Rebecca Wood

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