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Ask a Foodie: What Is Pumpkin Pie Spice?


Q.: What does it mean when a recipe calls for “pumpkin pie spice”? Is this something special that I need to buy?

—K.H.

Season your pumpkin pie to suit your tastes.

Season your pumpkin pie to suit your tastes.

Pumpkin pie spice is a seasoning blend that you can buy in the store or you can make using the spices that you like in a pumpkin pie.

McCormick makes a version that features cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice plus some “sulfiting agents” to keep it shelf stable. A 1-ounce container sells for about $3.65 at H-E-B.

If you’re only going to make one or two pies a year, you might as well make your own from scratch. Here’s where you can personalize the blend to suit your taste. Before you start, think about what flavors you like in your pumpkin pie. Ground cinnamon is practically a given, and ginger, too. But what about allspice? Would you rather have ground cloves? And what about using mace instead of nutmeg?

These variations will change the nature of your pumpkin pie (and possibly your warm spiced cider punch, if you want to season that), so the best bet is to taste the blend before you use it. If there’s too much ginger or not enough nutmeg, you’ll notice that even more so when your pie is served.

So, here are a couple of pumpkin pie spice blends to get you started. Make only small batches (you can half these recipes, again adjusting to taste), so you won’t have any leftovers that need preserving. Just remember to be careful with spices such as cardamom and clove, both of which can overwhelm everything they’re in. Start small and build those up.

If you’re looking for a little heat to add to your pie, try a pinch or two of Raz el Hanôut, a Moroccan spice blend made up of warm spices but with a a lively touch of heat on the finish. It’s made from ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, mace, cloves, cayenne pepper and turmeric, and just a touch of that will give you a whole new way of enjoying pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend I

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons ground allspice

Mix spices together. Use in your pumpkin pie recipe as directed.

Makes 7 tablespoons.

Make your own pumpkin pie spice.

Make your own pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend II

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix spices together. Use in your pumpkin pie recipe as directed.

Makes a little more than 5 tablespoons.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend III

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Mix spices together. Use in your pumpkin pie recipe as directed.

Makes a little more than 5 tablespoons.

From John Griffin

 

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