Pumpkin | In Season

In praise of pumpkin. An autumn favorite does double duty as a holiday staple.

By Amy Traverso

Nov 29 2016

Pumpkin detail

Pumpkin | In Season

Photo Credit : Stocksy/ACALU Studio
Pumpkin | In Season
Pumpkin | In Season
Photo Credit : Stocksy/ACALU Studio

While acknowledging that the ubiquity of pumpkin-spice-flavored lattes, Twinkies, scented hand soap, and, in one popular Facebook meme, Xanax (“for your seasonal anxiety”) may have turned you off pumpkin altogether by the time December rolls around, there are good reasons for folding it into your holiday repertoire.

First, unlike the tender greens, tomatoes, and sweet corn of early fall, local pumpkins are still fresh and in season now that winter is upon us. And if processing a fresh sugar pumpkin feels like too much work, there are always those cans of Maine-based One-Pie pumpkin puree to fall back on.

Second, pumpkin is a warming food, a cozy flavor to curl up with as the weather turns truly cold. It’s a delicious alternate for sweet potatoes in soups and desserts, and a sweet side dish as the pumpkin custard that my grandmother made every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

You can prepare edible pumpkin varieties, such as Cinderella, Fairy Tale, New England Pie, Cheese Pumpkin, and Baby Pam by cutting them into wedges, scraping out the seeds, drizzling them with butter and maple syrup, and cooking at 375° until tender and caramelized. Or you can make your own pie filling by cutting a pumpkin in half, scraping out the seeds, brushing the flesh with canola oil, and roasting it, cut-side down, at 350° until tender, 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin. Scrape out the soft flesh using a spoon, then run it through a food processor until smooth.Then add your fresh puree to the following recipes as directed.


Pumpkin-Ginger Soup This warming soup is richly flavored with ginger, onion, apples, and sage–Thanksgiving in a bowl.

2_pumpkin custard

Pumpkin Custard With all its sweetness and warm spice, and a texture somewhere between a custard and a souffle, this dish is a bit like eating dessert for dinner. Rose Traverso, grandmother of Yankee senior food editor Amy Traverso, served it every year at Thanksgiving.


Pumpkin Pie Pancakes This recipe for Pumpkin Pie Pancakes is very light, not overly spiced, and so easy.


Harborside House Pumpkin Bread The sweet tang of dried fruit combines with the richness of pumpkin to create this delightful pumpkin bread. Recipe from the Harborside House in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

5_Pumpkin Cookies

Soft Pumpkin Cookies We love this recipe for tasty, spicy, soft pumpkin cookies made with pumpkin puree and packed with nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips.


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies Savor the flavor of fall with these pumpkin whoopie pies, a spin on the traditional chocolate whoopie. You’ll love the maple cream cheese filling sandwiched between the pumpkin spice cakes.


Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie This is for all the non-bakers out there who still have to come up with dessert. Here’s a pie that requires hardly any actual baking, but has all the flavor of traditional pie: Just make a gingersnap crust and mix up a filling of vanilla ice cream, pumpkin puree, and spices.


Pumpkin Streusel Bars Pumpkin pie meets cookie bars in these delectable pumpkin streusel bars.


Pumpkin Ginger Muffins One of the great things about this recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Muffins is that you can take out a few muffins to bake at a time. The frozen batter will keep in the freezer for up to six weeks.