Pumpkin pie is a traditional sweet dessert, often eaten during the autumn and early winter, and especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in the United States. The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time and is also featured prominently at Halloween.
The Pumpkin pie consists of a pumpkin-based custard, ranging in colour from orange to brown, baked in a single pie shell, rarely with a top crust. The pie is generally flavoured with cinnamon, powdered ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice is also commonly used, and can replace the clove and nutmeg as its flavour is similar to both combined. Of all the famous American Pies, I think Pumpkin Pie is among my favourites, along with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Key Lime Pie.
The traditional cooking method involves the pumpkin being sliced in half and heated until soft. This is done over an open fire, but nowadays microwaves are frequently used! At this point the pulp is scooped out of the heated pumpkin shells and pureed in a blender. This pulp is then mixed with eggs, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and nutmeg, then baked in a pie shell. I think this method of cooking, as well as the uniqueness of eating pumpkin in itself, is why I adore pumpkin pie so much.
The pumpkin is only native to the continent of North America, and being from the UK, I am not aware of the pumpkin being on sale all year round (only at Halloween and on special occasions) so in the US I was surprised to see it on almost every menu! Pumpkin pie did not become a common addition to Thanksgiving dinners until the early nineteenth century. Nowadays it is sold all over the USA to locals and tourists alike – and it must rank as pretty much everybody’s favourite American pie, right?