It was mid fall—right at the peak of harvest. As we stepped out of the car at W. Rogowski Farm, my senses were overwhelmed. Scents of lemon grass and basil caught in the breeze tugged us in one direction to the fields where we were encouraged to harvest as many herbs as we could handle. A skillet crackled where a cooking demonstration was taking place. Warm quinoa salad with bacon and kale. It was the first time I tried quinoa and was instantly in love (though it might have had something to do with the bacon). Over in the barn, fresh laid eggs were being cracked and whisked into fluffy omelets, as satisfied breakfast diners watched on. Heaps of pumpkins, all sizes and shapes, piled high in front of the parking lot. It was then that I noticed them. Hiding behind the sea of orange was a smaller collection of ghost white pumpkins.
I grew up in the suburbs. Not exactly a farm girl, but had certainly visited my share between hayrides, annual apple picking trips and the (now dwindling) family farm stands in my immediate area. I knew how farm animals were raised, how various crops grew. Ironically after moving to the city my need to know where my food came from deepened. It was rare to find a plant that surprised me. But never in my nearly 3 decades as an omnivore had I encountered a white pumpkin. I needed to have one.
I went ahead and selected a perfectly round, unblemished specimen. Content with my purchase, I cheerfully brought it home to my Brooklyn apartment. Where it sat. For about 3 weeks. Just because I wanted it, didn’t necessarily mean I knew what to do with it.
It was so glossy and white, I was almost afraid to touch it. A ghost jack o’lantern did cross my mind, but I wanted to do something special. A perfect piece of beauty needed to be served in a perfect way. Finally I decided on a pumpkin pie. “How cool!” I thought. I imagined the looks of curiosity (and confusion) as I strolled in to Thanksgiving dinner with a pure white pie. Then their reaction to sampling a bite. “The taste is so familiar, like pumpkin—but it can’t…”
I worked off my well scribbled upon classic pumpkin pie recipe. I read that white pumpkins have a bit milder flavor, so I amped up the spices a bit. It came out perfect. A bit golden on top, but I figured it was bound to color a bit from the heat. I was still giddy with my pumpkin “prank”.
After a (very) filling Thanksgiving meal, my ego was still inflated. I was ready to pounce and laugh as they cut into the pie, discovering its pure white core. Then everyone started complimenting my delicious pumpkin pie. No gasps, no concern or looks of confusion. When I got my slice I realized the joke was on me. My snowy white, awe-inspiring ghost pumpkin had transformed in the oven. Sitting on front of me was an ordinary slice of pumpkin pie. The only sign of white came from the generous dollop of freshly whipped cream that christened its crust.
Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure I’d go through the effort to seek out a white pumpkin pie, but even still, a Thanksgiving meal is not complete without a slice of pumpkin pie. The below recipe is my classic go to. If you do come across a white pumpkin, remember to add a bit more spice.
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
- 2 c pumpkin puree
- 3 eggs, slightly beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- Pie shell
Preheat your oven to 425°F. In a large bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, sugar, salt, spices and milks. Mix well. Pour into prepared pie shell and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and continue baking 45-50 minutes, until center no longer jiggles.
Cool completely and serve with fresh whipped cream.