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For the Love of Pumpkin

November 15, 2009

My daughter called me the other day. She wanted to prepare some fresh pumpkin for pies and other recipes but didn’t know how. Her phone call brought back memories for the first time I tried to cook fresh pumpkin to freeze for later use. We were living in Texas, out in the country north of Dallas when my mother in law called to ask the same question my daughter had just posed. I was surrounded by farmers and so I took a survey of the older neighbors to see what method they advised. Much to my surprise, even the oldest said to go to the store and buy a can. Well, I just wasn’t prepared to do that so armed with a pumpkin, several knives a stove and a microwave I started experimenting. It was entertaining I am sure. The long and the short of it is that I figured out that I could put the pumpkin in the microwave until the skin was tender. Then I could cut in to it easily, dispose of the seeds and then cook down the chunks on the stove. (One step I added later was to process the cooked pumpkin in the food processor to make it smooth rather than stringy.)  That done, I realized that I had no idea how to treat fresh pumpkin in a recipe. Everything I read called for canned pumpkin which was very thick. My pumpkin was not thick at all.

My search lead me through all my cook books and on to my mother’s collection which was in my possession being her only daughter and heir. In one of her books, South Carolina Cook Book, Revised: A Collection of Recipes by the South Carolina Council of Farm Women, Edited by Members of the State Home Demonstration Department and published by the University of South Carolina Press, dated 1954 I found the best basic pumpkin pie recipe ever on page 318. Here it is:

1 1/2 cups cooked fresh pumpkin                                                       1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                 2 eggs slightly beaten

1 cup whole milk                                                                                        1/4 teaspoon nutmeg                                                                         1 teaspoon butter

1 cup sugar                                                                                                   1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine ingredients. Mix thoroughly pour into pastry-lined pan, bake in hot oven at 425 degrees about 25 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream if desired  or serve while still warm.

NOTE: The recipe does not say so, but one would have known in 1954 to partially bake the crust before putting the pumpkin in the pan so the crust would not become soggy.

To give credit where credit is due, this recipe was submitted by Lucy K. Harter of Allendale County, SC.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin pie recipe?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2009 10:49 pm


    I saw your tweet about this, and I just wanted to stop by and let you know that my Pumpkin pie recipe is solid as well. Many have enjoyed it, and I have tried to make it easy, and workable for either fresh or canned pumpkin.


    • Lauren permalink*
      November 16, 2009 9:17 pm

      S, Thanks for stopping by. I am sure that your pumpkin pie is wonderful…and easy is required! Enjoy…

    • Lauren permalink*
      November 16, 2009 9:20 pm

      S, my mother in law used to make a pumpkin roll similar to the one on your site. Looks yummy! I’ll bet the pie is as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. November 16, 2009 9:18 am

    Great info Lauren. I made a pumpkin cheesecake last year that was really pretty good. I am a purist at heart….pumpkin pie is the top. My mom is the pie maker as a general rule…. fine by me.

    • Lauren permalink*
      November 16, 2009 8:18 pm

      Janet there was a pumpkin chocolate cake in Southern Living Magazine several years ago…we were still in Seattle so around 2003 or 2004…it is delicious and pretty too. You cook it in a bundt pan and drizzle a chocolate glaze over the cake that is half pumpkin and half chocolate cake. I’ll have to find that recipe and share it soon.

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