Have you ever been in this scenario:
You are looking for a real pie pumpkin that does not come out of a can. You are a week before Thanksgiving. Where have all the pumpkin gone? You knew you saw a ton of them a few weeks ago, while aren’t they here when you need them!
I have seen this before. Stores are stocked with pumpkins as early as September and all the way through Halloween. And then before you can bake your pumpkin pie, they are gone. Who is to blame? The store. The guy stocking the produce (never blame that guy!). The growers. Yourself?
Doesn’t matter who is at fault, you don’t have your pumpkin. You could do what most people do and settle for a can, or you could look at these as an opportunity to branch you into new territory that you may have tried out before.
In this post, I am going to share with you what you can use in place of a pie pumpkin (hint, you won’t need a can opener for any of these options).
This is the easiest solution to your problem. Butternut squash are so plentiful this time of year you should have no trouble tracking one down. Butternut squash is sweet enough to pass for pumpkin. It is also easier to slice through the most pie pumpkin. The orange color on the inside matches pumpkin enough that no one should notice. The texture is close enough as well. You could try an acorn squash if you wanted, but I think butternut is the closet. Obviously do not make a pie out of a spaghetti squash. The texture of that would be way off.
Not as popular as butternut or as easy to find, but if you can find the large, often blueish color squash, it is known for being excellent for pie. These squash may be slightly easier to track down this time of year than a pie pumpkin. They have a long storage capacity. I have seen then last through an entire winter and beyond without even being refrigerated. Also a lot of people are intimidated by them, so they end up sitting longer in the grocery store than do pie pumpkins.
How Much Replacement to Use?
No need to change or alter what your recipe calls for. Use the same amount of your replacement as you would a pie pumpkin.
Come On, Can’t I Just Use a Can of Pumpkin
Of course you can (pun intended). However your end result will never be as good as it can be. I have eaten things with canned pumpkin and I can tell there is something lacking. The can pumpkin lacks the dimension of flavor of fresh, you really can’t beat it. I have heard some people say they can’t taste the difference and maybe they can’t and that’s ok. My personal experience has been I surely know when the real deal is being used as the depth of flavor is so much more. Still I would rather you go for a can and make the pie yourself then overpay for a grocery store pie that you can easily best yourself.
Next Year, Plan Ahead!
What I recommend doing so you don’t end up in a situation later, is to plan ahead. Buy your pie pumpkins as soon as they hit the stores. They have a long storage life. I do this every year. I get a bunch of pie pumpkins, display them in my house, and cook them as needed. They easily last til Thanksgiving. Occasionally you might get one that ends up with a bad spot and starts to rot, so keep on eye on them. Even if that happens, cook the pumpkin now, and then freeze it and save it for Thanksgiving later.