“Pumpkins, the winter squashy behind the quintessential “fall flavor,” are stealing the show right now at area farmers & tailgate markets. But how much are pumpkins really behind the symbolic autumnal flavor, and what of it’s history? The pumpkin flavor” ubiquitous in mainstream food culture is actually the flavor of the spices added to pumpkin for pie – cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. The flavor of the pumpkin itself is bland and removed from the flavorings of so many of these mainstream fall foods. Furthermore, none of the spices in the traditional pumpkin pie are grown here – they’re all tropical.
Want to experiment with locally-grown flavors in your own homemade pumpkin pie? Try flavoring it with milk, which you can find from Mills River Creamer sold by Brittain Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market and Mills River Farmers Market – also through their retail store at the corner of 280 and 191/ Haywood Road in Mills River). Honey – which you can find from Tucker’s Garden (North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Farmer’s Market); and ginger, which you can find from Aardvark Farm (Yancy County Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market and Asheville City Market).
Other ideas for local flavor for your pie: sorghum molasses, plain chevre and/or a small bit of hot pepper.
Historically, the pumpkin pie wasn’t always what we know it to be now. Accounts lead historians to believe that the early settlers made a “pie” by stewing pumpkin, milk and honey in the pumpkin shell over a fire. Perhaps give this a try at your next backyard bonfire!
…Pumpkin pie mix from a can is actually made from more types of winter squash than just pumpkin, and almost any variety of winter squash will make a great “pumpkin” pie. (Also, you can use sweet potato in place of or along with pumpkin). There are a range of varieties of pumpkin to choose from; many folks throughout the region recommend “candy roasters”, but it’s fun to form your own opinion.
For details on additional markets, visit www.buyappalachian.org/search/tailgate_markets.