Bad news for those of you looking forward to cramming your face with the orange flesh of a mashed gourd this fall: There’s a pumpkin puree shortage in the US.
A story in Bloomberg blames heavy summer rains in the Midwest, specifically in Illinois, where about 80 percent of the pumpkins grown for puree in the US is grown. The bad weather apparently delayed the planting season, then destroyed blossoms that would have turned into the sweet winter squash (yeah, it’s just squash). Libby’s, the Morton, Illinois company that packs the pumpkin, says yields are down by almost 50 percent.
Your Thanksgiving table might look a little bleak this year but there’s really no need to pass on the pumpkin just because you can’t have it mashed up like baby food and plopped into a can. Here are four alternatives fit for your autumn consumption.
Pumpkin Spice Peeps
Once known only as an inedible technicolor springtime crafting material, Peeps has eradicated its quirky charm by slowly adding characters for all the holidays and making them available year-round. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now Peeps come in flavors, like this Pumpkin Spice varietal. Easter can’t come soon enough.
Tastes like: Barf Dipped in White Fudge
For years, the Pumpkin Spice Latte™, also known as the PSL™, dutifully appeared on Starbucks chalkboards sometime after the 4th of July, filled with plenty of ingredients, but pumpkin, puzzlingly, was not one of them. This angered everyone’s favorite bullshit food science expert, the Food Babe, so she led a campaign to get Starbucks to add real pumpkin to the mix. Due to unrelenting, misguided pressure from PSL™ fans, Starbucks added actual pumpkin puree to the PSL™ earlier this year.
Tastes like: A barista took a vat of Crisco and rolled it through the bottom of your grandma’s spice cabinet before depositing it atop a burnt cup of coffee.
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Tortilla Chips
Every year at this time the Hawaiian-print wearing grocer likes to troll us with a 40-page “fearless flyer” where they try to work in as many pumpkin product references as they can. Which yields things like Pumpkin-Seed Encrusted Pumpkin Ravioli Stuffed With Roasted Pumpkin. At its best, you get pumpkin waffles. At its worst, you get pumpkin chips. Surely you can find something to appease your pumpkin-tooth. Also, how can we be sure Trader Joe’s didn’t cause the pumpkin shortage???
Tastes like: Newsprint
Oblong, orange, and just as sweet, butternut squash is the perfect understudy for any recipe that calls for pumpkin. It’s so similar, in fact, that some pumpkin purees actually toss in a little butternut to thicken them up.
Tastes like: I can’t believe it’s not pumpkin!
AP Photo/Seth Perlman