BY DEBBRA J. MORRIS
Sitting side by side with the hefty pumpkins used for decorating, are the smaller, smoother sugar pie or pie pumpkins. This heirloom variety is thought to have originated here in the eastern United States, and is a smaller cultivar of the Connecticut field pumpkin, one of the oldest pumpkin varieties in existence.
This little pumpkin usually averages about 6 to 8 inches in diameter, weighs about 6-7 pounds, and is easy to roast and use in recipes. They have a smoother, denser flesh and are less stringy than their behemoth pumpkin relatives. The flavor is sweet, firm, and very pumpkin-y.
Sugar pies are excellent for roasting and making into your own fresh pumpkin purée. Turn this delicious purée into soups, pumpkin bread, and other baked goods. Mash as you would potatoes, or make your own pumpkin butter! When puréed, a small sugar pie pumpkin makes about two cups of purée, enough to make a pie !
You’ll find sugar pie pumpkins at your local farmers’ markets. Pick up several and roast up these wonderful little gourds! You’ll find them at First Generation Farmers of Brentwood where they grow some of the best gourds around.
Easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 5-pound Sugar Pie pumpkin, seeded, peeled, and cut into 2-inch cubes
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a bowl. Place about 1/4 of the pumpkin into the bottom of a slow cooker, and sprinkle with 1/4 of the sugar mixture; repeat layers 3 more times. Cover the slow cooker, set it on Low. Cook for 8 hours or overnight. Stir once or twice during cooking. When the pumpkin is a dark, golden color, place an immersion blender into the slow cooker, and blend the pumpkin butter until smooth. Place in glass jars with lids and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Recipe: PCFMA Staff