Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins – the Creamsicle Pumpkin

I love Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkins.  This amazing heirloom was introduced in the late 1800s, a true American heirloom “fruit.”  (yes, pumpkin is a “fruit” not a vegetable, if we are gonna get all technical.).  But along with a great history and American tradition, the Winter Luxury has many other assets to offer!  First of all, they just LOOK good.  Light, orange flesh that has an lacy overall of brown “netting” (produced by sugars in the growing pumpkin bursting through the skin and oxidizing into a lacy pattern. Yep that’s a good thing!).

Secondly, when you cook them, they roast up beautifully, kinda collapsing into into themselves in a pumpkiny explosion.  And when you use them in a recipe, the texture of their flesh is so fine, that you don’t even need to puree them before use – a simple fork mash is often all I do. Ad the, and most importantly, is the flavor.  Sweet, light, distinctly “pumpkin” without being overbearing or too rich.  Perfect!

I often describe Winter Luxuries as the “creamsicle” pumpkin because, although they don’t really have an orange flavor, their color is very similar and something about the smooth silken texture always reminds me of my childhood favorite – a creamy creamsicle bar!  Or, if you don’t believe me how great Winter Luxury pumpkins are well then take the word of this noted author…

Amy Goldman, author of The Compleat Squash, has this to say:

“Winter Luxury Pie is my favorite orange pumpkin, and were she not the finest pie stock in the land, she still would be a knockout. . . . Winter Luxury Pie makes the smoothest and most velvety pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. When cut into a wedge on a plate, it holds its shape, color, and flavor long after the competition has keeled over and died.”

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A big ole pie of Winter Luxuries!

Strong praise indeed, from an author who published a WHOLE book on pumpkins and squash!  Now I’ve addressed this question before but I find can’t be said too often…so many folks seem puzzled how to use an ACTUAL pumpkin versus “pumpkin” in a can.  First of all, that “pumpkin” in a can is actually a variety of a neck squash.  Not even a named pumpkin variety.  Second of all, it just isn’t any where NEAR as a good as a real, honest to goodness pie pumpkin.  To be honest, it’s like most all other vegetables for me…Once I’ve had the “real” thing I just can’t go back.  And of all the pie pumpkin varieties, the Winter Luxury variety is the creme de la creme.  The top of pumpkin heap!

But then there is the problem of folks just not even understanding how to take an actual pumpkin and turn it into what the majority of American’s are, sadly, only used to seeing in a can.  I, will admit, it is a BIT more work to turn your actual pumpkin into a puree than it is to open a can of “neck squash” puree.  But just barely.

First of all is figuring out the math.  Since so many recipes call for a “15 ounce an of pumpkin puree.” (sigh).  Well, here you go….figure once 15 oz “pumpkin” puree equals 1 ¾ cup real fresh heirloom pumpkin puree.  And…a 2 to 3 lb pumpkin (precooked) will equal about 2 cups of pumpkin puree when cooked which is usually enough for 1 pie (depending on how big your pie dish is!). A good rough figure in 1 pound of pumpkin equals 1 cup of puree. Voila!

You can make your “puree” many easy ways. You can cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and roast on baking dish at about 400 degrees until a fork easily pierces skin. Let cool and scoop out the meat from the skin. You can also peel the pumpkin and dice into cubes and steam until cubes are soft. I find roasting pumpkin makes a richer, smokier flavor and steaming makes a more clean, bright flavor. In either case many recipes call to then blend the cooked pumpkin until smooth consistency. (some pumpkin varieties can be fairly stringy). If you use Winter Luxury Pumpkins their texture is so ideal I often find a quick fork mash is sufficient. But certainly feel free to blend if you want it extra especially smooth.

Once you have your puree, use it as needed. It is also easy-peasy to freeze extra pumpkin puree and have for a later date.

Then….remember….you can make SO many things other than just PIE with your pumpkin.  Certainly make pie.  Absolutely.  But….how about Pumpkin-Chocolate Brownies?  Or Pumpkin bread?  Or Pumpkin Mousse?  Or…there are so many great savory pumpkin recipes.  (In many other non-American cultures pumpkin is used much more commonly for many main dish meals).  Pumpkin soup?  Pumpkin and pasta?  Pumpkin Mac and Cheese? Crispy Roasted pumpkin?  So so many more.  Check out these links for many of these recipes (and more!).

http://altonbrown.com/all-of-my-pumpkin-recipes-in-one-place/

http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/savory-pumpkin-recipes/1

Not to mention pumpkin is great for you.  One cup of mashed pumpkin provides more than 200x your daily recommendation of vitamin A, significantly more than potassium than a banana and 20% of your recommended intake of vitamin D.

So…have I talked enough yet!  Pumpkin is great!  Especially Winter Luxury Pumpkins.  So come to see us at the Bayview Farmer’s Market and stock up on a few Winter Luxuries.  It is the season!

Farmer Georgie, Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie

P.S.  Yes the Bayview Farmer’s Market has moved INDOORS for the cold weather!  Cozy digs indeed inside of the Bayview Farm and Garden’s greenhouses.  Come see our great display of amazing fall and winter vegetables.  Saturday’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Christmas!

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