Pumpkin Season in Maine
As you drive the country roads, bright patches of orange are visible in the fields. Farm stands and yards have piles of the bright orange fruit just begging to be bought for lawn decoration, Halloween jack-o-lanterns, or for delicious pumpkin pies, cookies, and muffins. The pumpkin has a long history in Maine. Before the White settlers came, the Abenaki Indian tribes were planting and harvesting pumpkins, squash, beans, and maize (corn). While they dried much of these foods to sustain them through the harsh winter months, they did enjoy some of it fresh.
The flavor of pumpkin blended well with the flavor of maple syrup (another invention of the Indian) and the natives often combined the two in some very delicious ways. I have two pumpkin recipes to share with you today and the first one is a very old recipe – Abenaki Baked Pumpkin. Pumpkin never tastes better than when it is baked with pure maple syrup. None of the make believe pancake syrups will do. You must use pure maple syrup for the recipe.
Abenaki Baked Pumpkin
Carefully cut and remove the top of a firm small pie pumpkin. Scoop out all the seeds and clean any strings from the cut out top. Also remove the stem from the top. Once the pumpkin is cleaned of all seeds and strings, fill it a bit more than 1/2 full of pure maple syrup. Place the top back on and place in a baking dish. Bake in oven at 325 until you the flesh inside the pumpkin is soft. Remove from oven, discard top, place in center of a large plate and slice as you would slice a pie, first in half, then quarters and then eighths. To eat, simply remove it from the skin with your fork and enjoy, I do believe this was the precursor to the pumpkin pie!
Our second pumpkin recipe is for a modern Maple Walnut Pumpkin Pie… super delicious and just as good with chopped pecans on top, which is my preference.
Maple Walnut Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients for pie:
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 9″ graham cracker pie crust (or regular pie crust)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, maple flavoring, ginger, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F; continue baking 30 minutes.
In medium mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts.
Remove pie from oven; top evenly with crumb mixture. Return to oven 10 minutes. Cool. Garnish as desired.
Store covered in refrigerator.
There are dozens of other ways to enjoy pumpkin season in Maine. Pies, cookies, cakes, breads, muffins, pancakes, and more. Try some new pumpkin recipes this fall season, and enjoy the goodness of pumpkin all year