Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins: Thoughts on a Trend

 “Tomorrow, I am going to make something pumpkin flavored.”

A couple years ago, I began to notice that pumpkin flavored things were popping up more and more in the fall.  It started with just baked goods, and pumpkin spice lattes.  This year, I saw ice cream, beer, wine, tea, prepackaged puddings and snack cakes, cookies and everything.  I suspect this is all an attempt to cash in on the wild popularity of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  

I have loved PSLs for many years, but the trend seems to be getting a little outrageous this year.  The manufactured pumpkin items seem to be drowning in sugar and spice, without much pumpkin flavor. And too much of it makes it so much less special. Since we’ve mostly lost our connection to the natural world, its like food manufacturers have to shove these artificial seasonal flavorings in our faces to remind us what time of year it is. This trend seems to be fairly limited to the US:

I think that pumpkin has its place alongside other fall flavors, but I’m a traditionalist. When I want something pumpkin flavored, I start with good old pumpkin puree.  I make my own (two pumpkins worth), and use canned pumpkin after I run out.   And “Pumpkin Pie Spice” is actually just a variable combo of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and nutmeg (usually).  If you have these, you have pumpkin pie spice already.

This fall, I made these delicious pumpkin muffins.  In my experience, pumpkin is best utilized in baked goods.  It adds a delightful moistness, and sneaking a vegetable into baked things is never a bad idea.  I topped my muffins with roasted pumpkin seeds, and ate them with Earl Grey on a chilly afternoon. That is fall.

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