Had your fill of pumpkin yet?

These days, it invades our coffee, muffins, ice cream, cookies, cheesecakes and just about everything, earlier and earlier. Rampant pumpkin spice aggression seems to suck some of the joy out of holiday eating before November ever gets here.

If you’re sick of the sight, sound and taste of pumpkin — this and pumpkin-that — move along. We are going to talk pumpkin today for those who either can’t get enough or who manage to avoid the pre-holiday overkill and still look forward to some holiday pumpkin enjoyment.

I was surprised to read an article recently that claimed canned pumpkin wasn’t really pumpkin. Say what? Was this blasphemy or bamboozlement?

My investigative instincts kicked right in, and what I discovered was surprising and a little confusing. Allow me to enlighten you.

It is true that canned pumpkin — even those with labels touting “100% pumpkin” — doesn’t come from the festive orange field pumpkins that make great jack-o’-lanterns and porch décor. If you’ve ever tried to cook and use that kind of pumpkin, you know the ugly truth: They don’t taste all that great. The texture is watery. The color is sallow. Ick.

Most canned pumpkin is from what’s called a Dickinson pumpkin — a misshapen, pale squash that you’d probably never buy in a store. In this case, it’s what’s on the inside that counts here. Despite the name, this squash is not of the same species as our beloved, round orange dandies. But the flesh lends itself beautifully to our culinary purposes with a nicely balanced moisture level, pleasing texture and rich, pumpkiny flavor.

I watched a brief but fascinating video of Illinois farmers who grow and supply Dickinson pumpkins for Libby’s brand (no relation) pumpkin. Sure enough, the rows and rows of fruit in their fields looked more like ugly butternuts than pumpkins as we envision them. (You can see it here: vimeo.com/184923907/5852e840a8. Just remember: You can’t unsee this, so if the truth will shatter your pumpkin pie dreams, skip it.)

I then went to the Libby’s page for canned pumpkin, where I found this tidbit:

Perfect as the base ingredient in sweet or savory recipes, each can of LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin is all-natural and contains no preservatives. Our Dickinson variety of pumpkin goes from seed to can right here in the USA.

So, there you have it straight from the canner’s mouth.

As for me, the look of those irregular squashy things has kind of grown on me. Next year, I might just have the ugliest jack-o’-lantern in town!

But enough talking. Thanksgiving is looming, and it’s time to get busy finalizing the menu and gathering ingredients.

Go get your canned pumpkin, start rolling those pie crusts and make you some unpumpkiny pumpkin pies.

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Libby Wiersema writes about dining, food trends and the state’s culinary history for Discover South Carolina as well as other print and online media. Contact her at libbyscarolinaspoon@gmail.com.

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