Is it better to make your pumpkin pie from scratch—or use canned pumpkin? I found out the hard way so you can enjoy your holiday dessert for less… without sacrificing taste. From Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.
I had always used canned pumpkin for pie, because it was what my mother and grandmother used. In my family, canned pumpkin is traditional. But I liked the idea of starting with a whole food rather than a can, and what if canned pumpkin turned out to be just as inferior as canned sweet potatoes and I just didn’t know better? I baked two pies, identical except for the source of the pumpkin. Pie number one contained the flesh of a sugar pie pumpkin that I roasted for an hour, peeled, seeded, de-stringed, and forced through the food mill. Pie number two contained the flesh of a pumpkin that Libby’s had processed in a plant and I scooped out of the can.
Results: The canned pumpkin was (obviously) more convenient, and I did not have to wait for it to roast. It was also slightly more expensive—about $0.50 more than the whole pumpkin. But those were fifty cents well spent, because it made a superior pie—the flavor was bigger, rounder, more pumpkin-y. I have no idea how you get more pumpkin-y than an actual pumpkin. According to the label, Libby’s canned pumpkin contains nothing but pumpkin. Did I just have a dud pumpkin? Confusing.
My advice: When you’re standing at the supermarket the day before Thanksgiving pondering your pumpkin options, grab the can and get in the checkout line before it grows any longer. You’re not being squeamish, you’re being sensible. However, you should absolutely bake your own pie.
Make it or buy it? Make it.
Hassle: Once you have the crust, it’s just stir, pour, bake.
Cost comparison: Homemade: $3.68. Sara Lee frozen: $5.99. Safeway in-house bakery: $8.79.
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup half-and-half
One 9-inch pie crust, partially baked
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and half-and-half and beat until smooth. Pour into the crust.
3. Bake for 35 minutes. This is incredible served warm out of the oven, and almost as good cold.
More from Jennifer Reese:
—How to Save Money by Preparing a Thrifty Thanksgiving Meal
—Is It Um, Cheaper to Kill Your Own Turkey for Thanksgiving?