In the run-up to the Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, the internet tends to annually cry blasphemy because there isn’t much pumpkin in those cans of 100 percent pure pumpkin pie filling flying off the shelves.

In 2012 “Heirloom Gardener” magazine first reported that America’s leading brand of canned pumpkin comprises mostly Dickinson Pumpkin, a squash that looks more like a pale, slightly misshapen butternut than it does the round, orange field pumpkin. Libby’s, which holds 85 percent market share, developed the Dickinson Pumpkin variety themselves to have a smooth skin (easier to peel) and creamy, sweet flesh (nicer to eat in a pie). Field pumpkins make great jack-o’-lanterns, but their bland, stringy flesh does not make a nice pie.

That’s just fine with the FDA whose 1969 policy states that “the labeling of articles prepared from golden-fleshed, sweet squash or mixtures of such squash and field pumpkin, we will consider the designation ‘pumpkin’ to be in essential compliance with the ‘common or usual name’ requirements of” both the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Acts. After all, all pumpkins and winter squash are both members of the cucurbit family.

So get over it, people. Unless you’re making your own puree from small, sweet pie pumpkins, you’re probably consuming squash pie, squash bread, squash muffins, salted squash caramels and squash-spice lattes.

As I walked through the local vegetable section at my local Hannaford admiring the growing piles of local winter squashes, I began to wonder which kind would make the best pie. Why not run my own pseudo-scientific tests to determine just that?

A mixed bowl of local winter squashes, including buttercup, acorn, Hubbard, butternut and delicata. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

I bought almost all they had: acorn, buttercup, butternut and Hubbard. I left the spaghetti squash behind, knowing its stringing texture would not play well in pie; I dissed the delicata as it’s best eaten with its skin on and not in a puree; and, I made a mental note that missing from this grocery store selection (and therefore my sample) were both the kabocha and red kuri squashes I’ve seen in farmers markets and on chef’s menus across southern Maine.

I roasted each squash whole at 375 degrees for 30 minutes and let them cool in the oven. This method both avoids the risk of losing fingers as you wrestle a sharp knife through tough squash skin and uses the residual heat to soften the squash until it’s easy to cut open, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh.

Once I had cooked squash, I mashed each into a smooth puree. Feeling a wee bit like Goldilocks in my own kitchen, I tasted each. The acorn was watery and bland, the butternut watery and strongly squashy tasting, the Hubbard sweet, dry and dense. The buttercup was just right with its smooth, semi-dry texture and sweet but still earthy taste.

The final step in my test entailed making a half recipe of my favorite chai pumpkin latte pie, pouring the filling into ramekins, baking them at 350 degrees until set and cooling them overnight. The acorn livened up a bit with the addition of sugar, fat (coconut milk) and spices, but was an unappetizing dirty yellow brown. The butternut held onto its squash flavor even with the added flavors, and the density of the baked Hubbard was more flourless chocolate cake than creamy custard. The buttercup was still just right for this pie recipe.

I’d hazard a semi-educated guess that buttercup squash puree can go anywhere pumpkin puree can. To get roughly the same amount of buttercup squash puree when a recipe calls for a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree (a volume measurement that is just 2 1/2 tablespoons shy of 2 cups), buy a 2 1/2-pound buttercup. When a recipe requires a 29-ounce can of pumpkin (a volume measurement of 3 1/2 cups), buy a 4-pound buttercup.

I realize, since my time in the kitchen typically doubles as time in the office, I have more time for this kind of ingredient experimentation than you probably do. But if you happen to give buttercup squash a go in your favorite pumpkin recipes, let me know how it measures up.

CHRISTINE BURNS RUDALEVIGE is a food writer, recipe developer and tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. Contact her at [email protected]

Buttercup squash won the day in this Chai Latte Pie.  Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Buttercup Squash Chai Latte Pie

Makes one (9-inch) pie

2 1/2 (green or orange) pound buttercup squash

1 recipe single pie crust dough

1 cup coconut milk

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple or birch syrup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon ginger juice (see No Loose Ends)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Whipped cream, for serving

Arrange two racks in the center slots in your oven. Place the whole squash in the uppermost rack. Set the temperature to 375 degrees. As the squash warms up with the oven, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Fit it into a 9-inch pie place. Crimp edges and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Place the cold pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet, prick the bottom all over with the tines of a fork, and line it with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or dried beans, then slide the prepared pie shell onto the available rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment with the weights or beans and bake the pie shell until the bottom of the crust is dry, but not browned at all, 7-10 minutes. Remove the pie shell from the oven.

Leave the squash in the oven but turn off the heat. When both the oven and the squash in it are cool, remove the squash and set the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Slice the squash open, gently remove the seeds and scrape the flesh out of the skin. Add 2 cups of squash puree, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, syrup, cornstarch, ginger juice, salt and spices to the jar of a blender. Tightly secure the lid on the jar. Process on high speed until the mixture is smooth and glossy, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into the prepared shell and bake until the custard is a bit puffed on the edges with just the slightest wiggle in the middle of the pie, 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Serve either chilled or at room temperature with whipped cream.

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