My brother Jerry grows squash, pumpkins and broom corn on our farm in South Central Ohio. We were down there for Labor Day weekend and he gave me some of his harvest – a butternut squash, a ghost pumpkin and a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin. This was the first year he grew the Cheese Pumpkin. I asked him if it was to eat or for decoration, and he told me it’s supposed to be real good for pies. I’m always anxious to try new varieties of fruit and veggies so I brought it home and stored it in my garage for about a week. Before I could cook it those blotches showed up on the shell, when I brought it home it was a beautiful creamsicle color, but the discoloration did not affect the shell or the flesh. I have since seen other photos with this pattern of blotching so I’m not sure what caused it.
After doing some research, I found that the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is actually a squash, a variety of Cucurbita Moschata. A good website to read more about this interesting variety is Long Island Seed Project. It states that it is superior for pies, and that’s where we’re going today.
I started by quartering and seeding – I washed the seeds to roast but got lazy and pitched them. They were nice fat seeds, and I do feel some guilt over discarding them but there are only so many hours in my day. There are varied of methods of cooking squash/pumpkin, including boiling, steaming and microwaving, however for this project I decided to oven roast. I read that it gives a nice carmelized flavor and thought it would be a good method for this variety of squash. Into a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, and it looked like this:
Now, don’t worry about those brown bits on the end. I cut them off and ate them warm, yum yum! Sweet and carmelized without sugar. Peel the rest of the pumpkin after it cools and puree in a blender or food processor. My squash yielded 5-7/8 cups (you might get 6 cups, remember the brown bits I ate? The other 1/8 cup!) and proceed to your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. (I froze the other 4 cups in 2 cup freezer bags.) This is the recipe I used:
For every 2 cups of pureed squash add 1 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. of ginger, 1/4 tsp. cloves and 1/2 tsp of salt. Next, add your custard ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 can of evaporated milk (or 1 cup of whole milk or light cream) and 3/4 cup sugar. Everything should be nice and blended. Pour into a deep unbaked pie crust. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven and the depth of your pie. Check for firmness toward the end of the baking time (you want a firm custard), but don’t let the pumpkin filling over cook or scorch.
We found this to be very tasty, creamy, just the right amount of sweetness and pumpkin flavor, cooked up like a dream. (Just ignore the crust, I got lazy there too and used “store bought”, for this purpose it is only there to help the pie hold it’s shape when cut.) Add a dolop (or two or three!) of your favorite whipped topping. Truly, we could have eaten this whole pie in one night it was sooooo good! We came to our senses just in time and have been limiting ourselves to 1 piece per day.
Pumpkin Pie Trivia: In Dana’s family, it is a tradition to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving, cold out of the fridge, no topping, eaten out of hand. A tradition we have heartily embraced in our married life!
Brother Jerry only planted a few Long Island Cheese Pumpkins this year but he had such success that he plans to put in another row next year. He may still have some butternut squash and broom corn – if you live between Hillsboro, Ohio and Deerfield Twp, Ohio (north east of Cincinnati) (his daily route) you can contact him for availability at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let him know if you’d like to try this heirloom squash – he will put you on his list for Long Island Cheese Pumpkins for next year! I’ve already got my order placed…