Pumpkin pie is my second most favorite dish of Thanksgiving, right after stuffing. I start craving it the day we cut the pumpkins from the vine and put them in the garage, which was late September. (Thank goodness for Burgerville's pumpkin milkshakes that tide me over until Thanksgiving.)
Although it adds more time, I firmly believe that pumpkins pie should only be made from freshly baked pumpkins not canned. Why am I so adamant about fresh baked pumpkin vs canned? Both are nothing more than pureed baked pumpkin, right. The problem is that to can pumpkin, it has to be heated to a very high temperature to remove any bacteria (I've done this in the pressure cooker). That process can remove a lot of the sweetness and flavor, not to mention destroying vitamins. Fresh baked is just yummier. Of course, if you don't have the time, canned will work just fine.
It takes a couple hours to bake whole pumpkins until they are soft enough to puree. So typically I do a bunch, like 4 or 5, small sugar pumpkins and then freeze what we don't need. In case you aren't familiar with pumpkin varieties, sugar pumpkins are the small ones with darker orange skins rather than the big ones you make jack-o-lanterns out of. The big ones have thin shells, which is good for cutting scary faces but that's a lot of volume to bake without a lot of puree for your pie. Plus the big ones are not very sweet.
Mom's Pumpkin Pie
Makes 2 pies
Time = 4 hours (or a bit more)
2-3 sugar pumpkins (5 1/2 c puree)
1 1/2 c sugar (add 1/4 c more sugar if using canned pumpkin)
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon (2 t if using canned pumpkin)
1 t ginger
1/2 t cloves or nutmeg
3 1/3 c canned milk
Place pumpkins in a rectangle baking dish with about 1 inch of water. Bake at 350 F for 2 hours until soft when punctured with a knife. All to cool for 30 minutes. Cut each in half and remove the seeds. Peel off the skins. Place pumpkin flesh in a blender and puree until smooth. Measure out 5 1/2 cups. Freeze what you don't need for use in muffins or milkshakes.
Beat eggs with a fork. Stir in pumpkin. Add dry ingredients. Add milk and stir thoroughly. Pour evenly into prepared 2 pie crusts.* Bake at 350 F for 45 min or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*Unfortunately, I don't have a great pie crust recipe. If you do, please share it with me as a comment.