Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taste Testing Pumpkins

I cooked up both pumpkin varieties I grew last summer with the intent to make two pies, one from each kind to form a taste test.  

The Rouge Vif Detampes or also known as the Cinderella pumpkin from France...

and the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin. Not sure this tired bones is going to get it done but I used the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin in my Thanksgiving pie last Saturday. YUM!! 

The two I cooked up today were hugely different in color, texture, and moisture. The Rouge Vif  Detampes pumpkin is on the left and the New England Sugar Pie is on the right.
The Rouge Vif Detampes pumpkin is extremely moist and after having sat in the refrigerator a little while, liquid seeped out all around the edges of the bowl. This pumpkin has a stringy texture.
The New England Sugar Pie is creamy and smoother with far less moisture.
Having cooked both pumpkins whole in the oven, I noticed a dramatic difference also. The skin of the New England Sugar Pie was thinner.  

 It fell away from the meaty inside extremely easily. The Rouge Vif Detampes was more reluctant to let go of its meaty center.
The New England Sugar Pie...

and the Rouge Vif Detampes both had lots of meaty flesh to harvest, unlike a carving pumpkin which has a hard outer core and a hollow center. The New England Sugar Pie cooked whole afterwards separated ridiculously easily from the seeds and stringy center. I'll never scoop out the seeds first again with this variety. 

 The Rouge Vif Detampes cooked in this manner was a little trickier to decipher from the stringy center since it's flesh is more stringy also, though it wasn't bad.

There was one problem pointed out by my mother-in-law who had never made a pumpkin pie with a fresh pumpkin, instead having always used a store bought can of filling. The Rouge Vif Detampes had too much fluid and when she made her pie it was extremely runny. I promised to experiment and after having first drained off a little of the fluid by tipping the bowl of pulp to the side, I then plopped it into a wire strainer to continue to drain. It helped a great deal to remove the excess liquid.  

The results were still moister than the New England Sugar Pie pumpkin. I'd guess I will have to drop the liquids in the pie by 2 to 3 tablespoons.

I never thought about the need to make adjustments when I gave her the pumpkin. At the time I didn't know how moist this type of pumpkin was.

Adjusting is just something you grow accustom to when you use fresh ingredients. Your fresh eggs are different sizes even when the hens begin laying larger eggs. When they are pullets, I use two small eggs to every large egg ask for in a recipe. My home cultured buttermilk is extremely thick and requires a 1/4 a cup of milk to every cup of buttermilk called for in a recipe. And there changes from year to year on the garden vegetables and fruit. Your corn may be really sweet one year and the next not so sweet. The change could be due to the weather and soil nutrients.

Though these changes mean some unpredictably, they also can mean far more nutrition and a superb flavor to that which you can buy in a grocery store. 
Selection of varieties also plays a role in flavor and nutrition. That's what I'm working on. Trying to decide what varieties of garden vegetables to grow depending on flavor, productivity and nutrition. 

Personally, I have decided that I prefer the flavor of these New England Sugar Pie pumpkins to the Rouge Vif Detampes as it is more intensely pumpkiny. I also like the creamy texture rather than the stringy type in Rouge Vif Detampes. Then again, I don't like spaghetti squash because it is too stringy and mild in flavor. I also prefer Zucchini to Summer Squash and my favorite winter squash is Buttercup Squash. It makes a wonderful pie also.    
I do love the yield with the Rouge Vif Detampes though. The pumpkins were several times the size of the New England Sugar Pie and there was a large difference in the number of pumpkins each plant produced. The Rouge Vif Detampes far out produced the New England Sugar Pies.

So what does this mean? If I'm growing pumpkins to feed stock, hands down it would be the Rouge Vif Detampes. If I want pumpkin pie and pumpkin to freeze and can for future use, it's New England Sugar Pie.

So I think I'll grow the New England Sugar Pie every other or every third year as it doesn't take a great deal of pumpkin to keep us in pies, soups etc.  It has been the best flavored pumpkin I've grown to date. Every modern type variety I've tried in past years lacked flavor. The jack-0-lantern types of course are pretty tasteless.

As for the Rouge Vif Detampes, I'm not sure how I'll fit it into my new plans for growing different crops in rotation. It definitely has a place. It would greatly boost nutrition fed to the chickens which would boost the nutrition in their eggs.

I would guess that the seeds scooped out before cooking the pumpkin would hold more worming ability but I don't really know. And though I haven't tried it yet, pumpkin is suppose to be a wonderful addition to a goat's diet. I'm just wondering if I can get my goats to eat them. I'm going to try it soon. I'd guess they would want the pumpkin not cooked. Anyone tried this yet?

So exactly how I'm going to rotate my pumpkins from year to year as to the varieties I'll grow hasn't been worked out yet. And how am I going to fit in pumpkins for the grand kids to carve for Halloween also.

 I do have some serious thinking to do. What is your favorite pumpkin for pumpkin pies?

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