The Great Canned Pumpkin Crisis of 2010 (and a recipe)

Last Fall we evidently had hard freezes in many parts of the country significantly earlier than is usual. Of course I don’t recall this happening, but I can’t recall my own cell phone number most of the time (hey, I don’t call it!). Anyway, the result is that there was not a large enough pumpkin harvest to can the usual amount of pumpkin last Fall, so now we have no canned pumpkin. There evidently hasn’t been canned pumpkin in the stores for several months, but I didn’t notice it because I don’t use pumpkin in the Spring and Summer. So don’t go to your local grocery store and ask for canned pumpkin. They don’t have it, they haven’t had it for months, and they’re getting REALLY tired of telling people that.

So here are your options: Buy a real pumpkin (this year’s crop is OK so far) and cut it open, scoop out the seeds, scrape the edible part off, and cook it in some fashion. I can’t give you any details about this option because I have no intention of doing it. It’s messy and WAY too much trouble to get what I need. OR you can use sweet potatoes. Just buy a couple of sweet potatoes, poke them with a fork, and zap them in the microwave. Push the “potato” button – works like a charm. Then when they’ve cooled a bit slice them open and scoop out enough to use in your favorite pumpkin recipe. Two medium sweet potatoes yield about one cup.

Don’t have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Well, let me share my new-found favorite. I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Donut Muffins on StrawBerryCAKE and after I wiped the drool off my keyboard I went in search of pumpkin. That’s what started this whole thing. Other than the pumpkin – sweet potato substitution I did make a couple more changes to make these more “muffin” than “donut” (I’m trying to eat healthier, really I am!), so here’s exactly what I did:

Sweet Potato Spice Muffins

(makes 18 muffins)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground clove
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup Crisco
2 eggs
slightly more than 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup cooked sweet potato (2 med)

Mix Crisco, sugar, and eggs.
Mix all dry ingredients separately.
Alternate adding portions of dry mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture until fully blended.
Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 cup full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While muffins are baking melt 1/2 stick butter and set aside.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon and set aside.

Remove muffins to cooling rack while still hot.
Brush tops of muffins with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

My picky eleven-year-old ate these things like they were Krispy Kreme donuts. And I have to admit, they were pretty wonderful. GREAT texture – I think it’s the Crisco.

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10 thoughts on “The Great Canned Pumpkin Crisis of 2010 (and a recipe)”

  1. These also make wonderful mini muffins and you can roll the whole muffin in melted butter and the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Thanks!

  2. Saying hi from SITS! I didn't know about the canned pumpkin dilemma. Thanks for sharing and sharing ideas of how to substitute. And I am with you, buying a real pumpkin and cooking the guts is just not happening in my house. Looking forward to checking out some of your other posts.

  3. I haven't checked my grocery store for canned pumpkin yet but I usually try to do so before Halloween b/c they seem to run out a lot!

    Good thing I still have some left over from my stock up last year, I think it is still good! I love anything pumpkin.

  4. Oh I do like the sound of this! Sweet potatoes are fantastic, but I've never used them in baking. Your recipe is a great place to start! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Thankfully I found pumpkin (though not a lot of it!) on the shelf this month, but you’re right: sweet potatoes are an excellent substitution. So is butternut squash if you want something a little more closely related 🙂

    To go the natural pumpkin route I don’t even bother cutting a scooping before cooking them. Just like any squash (and you want the smaller pie pumpkins, carving pumpkins have very little flavor once they get that big) you can pop them, whole, into a 350 oven for an hour or pierce a few times with a small knife and microwave in 5 minute increments until you can easily pierce the sides.

    Let cool enough to touch then do all the messy stuff. Scoops out easy as pie, then 🙂

  6. Those look yummy! I went ahead and made my own pumpkin puree this year – it was quite easy! I got a few small pumpkins. I did them one at a time (still have one to go). Wash outside. Slice in half. Take out seeds and gunk – great time to roast those seeds in a little evoo and season salt. put pumpkins cut side down in a baking pan with about an inch or so of water. Microwave for 15 minutes. Let cool a little. Easily scrape out flesh and put in food processor or blender. Puree. Cool. Freeze until you need it. I got about a cup and a half out of each small pumpkin.

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