Pumpkins and the fall season are probably two of my favorite things. Fall is a time for slowing down, with shorter days and cooler weather. And pumpkins—what’s not to love about pumpkins? Heirloom fairy tale pumpkins in shades of pink and blue, dark orange face pumpkins which will be transformed with wonderful carvings, small gourds and mini pumpkins for the table centerpiece, and last but not least, the Amish neck pumpkin a.k.a. the perfect pumpkin for pie!
In my house, pumpkin pie is not a dessert we enjoy only in the fall. I process a lot of neck pumpkins every fall (last year I cooked 15) and then freeze the orange goodness to use throughout the year. Pumpkin contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, and lots of other good stuff. When combined with eggs in a low sugar custard, it is a great protein source, especially for a picky eater! At an early age my daughter was hooked on pumpkin custard and it has continued to be a favorite.
My mother gave me this recipe, which was originally found in the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (1989). I have since adjusted it to better suit my needs (below).
Cooking off your neck pumpkin is easy. I cut the pumpkin into chunks, cut off the “bulb” end and remove the seeds. I then lay all the pieces on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for one and a half hours (or until soft). Once the pumpkin has been removed from the oven and cooled, you can peel it and then puree it in a food processor. I then let the puree sit in a strainer to allow for the water to drain off (about 30 minutes). Any pumpkin not used immediately can be frozen and used at another time.
1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1/4- 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup evaporated milk
9″ unbaked pie shell (I use gluten free)
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices. Blend in eggs, milk, and evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell (filling is generous and I generally cook some in a small casserole dish without a crust). Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.