The days are getting shorter. The wind is getting cooler. The smell of wood smoke is in the air and Halloween is just around the corner. Fall is here and in full swing. Fall always seems to get me to crave apple crisp and anything made with pumpkins.
So how did these delicious pumpkin treat come into being?
Pumpkins originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago. It was one of the first wild plants cultivated for human consumption in America. Because of their thick and solid flesh, pumpkins could easily be stored throughout the winter and times of scarcity. They were a favorite with English colonists, who became acquainted with them prior to arriving in the New World. During the 3-day meeting between English colonists and the Wampanoag tribe known as the First Thanksgiving, pumpkins may have been included in the feast. If they were served, they were more likely cooked as a savory dish, not a dessert. Over time pumpkins were valued for their versatility. They were cooked into pies, stews, tarts, soups, and puddings. The flesh could be boiled, roasted, fried or mashed and the seeds were dried and salted as a nutritious snack food. Finding ways to make pumpkin into a unique, tasty dish instead of something that was just easy and inexpensive became a project for the women of the 17th century. Unable to vote and having little voice in public matters, creating recipes became a way for them to reach an audience and create their own identity. In the 1800’s it became stylish to serve pumpkin pies for the Thanksgiving holiday. The earliest versions of sweetened pumpkin dishes were actually pumpkin shells that had been cleaned out and filled with ginger-spiced milk, then roasted by the fire.
Here is a recipe my family loves to eat when pumpkins are in season.