It's the not-so-secret secret ingredient that even trained professional chefs didn't know they were using.

“I just didn't realize that,” said Drew Hays, professional chef and lecturer at the UT Austin Food Science Center. “I actually didn't know that until we started discussing this.”

She just learned the pumpkin puree she's been pumping into these pastry shells may actually be squash.

“Most of the pumpkin purees we have here in the U.S. are made of a different type of squash,” she said.

Now, before you think we've squashed your favorite fall dishes, consider this.

"Pumpkin," as defined by the FDA and USDA, can come from one or more types of winter squash, like butternut, Hubbard, Boston Marrow and Golden Delicious.

Libby's, which sells 85 percent of pumpkin puree, grows its own special Dickinson variety, which looks more like butternut squash than the variety most of us use to carve jack-o-lanterns.

Does it matter?

“The squash and the pumpkin are very, very similar," said Hays. "So, honestly, I don't think it makes a very big difference, certainly in terms of nutrition.”

Which is pumpkin puree? Can you tell the difference?
Which is pumpkin puree? Can you tell the difference?

In fact, real pumpkin puree is stringier, more watery than the canned version and could turn true pumpkin pie into something bland and soupy.

“You could make it, but you might have to adjust your final recipe,” said Hays.

So next time you bake with 100-percent pure pumpkin, remember the secret to making your dessert tastier may actually be squash.


Pumpkin Bars

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
2 cups flour
1 cup oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves (optional)
½ tsp nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl using mixer. Grease large cookie sheet with edges. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cream cheese filling

4 oz cream cheese
6 tbsp margarine or butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp milk

Beat until creamy. Spread on cooled bars. Enjoy. These freeze well.

For more pumpkin recipes from Libby's, click here.


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