There was an article in Yoga Journal recently, about tweaking traditional holiday recipes to make them healthier. They talked about how if you use fresh pumpkin instead of canned, you won't have to use as much sugar - not only because it is naturally sweeter, but also because you don't have to cover up the metallic taste. Well, that ruined it for me, because the next time I was feeding Jack canned pumpkin (mixed with applesauce), I tried some and I could definitely taste the metal. Darn it. Once I notice the metallic taste, it's all over. It was the same thing with cranberry sauce.
So I started keeping an eye out for pie pumpkins, but I haven't been able to find any. And I've read in a couple of places that if you can't find a pie pumpkin, you're better off using a butternut squash than a jack-o-lantern pumpkin (not that I can find any of those anymore, either). One website even said that commercially canned pumpkin is actually a variety of butternut squash, but I don't know about that.
Well anyway, it seemed like a reasonable idea, so I decided to try it. I bought a big ol' butternut squash, cooked it, pureed it, and baked it into a pie. It certainly did take less sugar to make it sufficiently sweet - only 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, whereas I usually use a full cup when I cook with canned pumpkin. The color of the finished pie was kind of beige-ish as opposed to dark orange, but it did look like a pumpkin pie. It smelled like a pumpkin pie, and I suppose it did taste like a pumpkin pie as well. It wasn't as if you could tell that it wasn't made with real pumpkin, but it did taste a little bland - there was a depth of flavor missing. It's a light and clean taste, but it just doesn't taste all that pumpkin-y. It's kind of like the difference between a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbucks and one from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - one tastes like pumpkin pie spice, and one has real pumpkin flavor. (FYI, the Pumkin Pie Blizzard at DQ is the most pumpkin-y thing I've tasted in a long time.)
The verdict: is butternut squash an acceptable substitute for pumpkin in a pinch? Yes. Are they interchangeable? No.
I'm going to keep on looking for pie pumpkins...
Leave It To The Pros
2 hours ago