By now it should not be news that the U.S. is facing a severe shortage of canned pumpkin. News sites and blogs everywhere are talking about the effect on our Thanksgiving pumpkin pies.
If you're depending on canned pumpkin to make your holiday pumpkin pie and you find you can't get any, never fear! Kabocha squash (also known as Japanese pumpkins) are plentiful at Southern California farmers markets. Knobbly and dark green on the outside, they're the same yellow-orange color on the inside, a very similar flavor and quite cheap; you can usually get a large pumpkin, about the size of an adult's head, for under $5.
To replicate the texture of canned pumpkin, peel a kabocha squash, remove its seeds and cut it into chunks. Then steam it for about 20-25 minutes, until you can stick a knife in it easily. Put the it through a food mill, a food processor, or take a masher to it, and use it exactly as you would pumpkin in recipes.
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If you want even better-tasting pie, just split the kabocha squash in half, remove the seeds, rub with a tiny bit of oil (maybe half a teaspoon for the whole squash), and roast at 400°F for 45-60 minutes until you can insert a sharp knife all the way through. Let it cool, then use your hands to take off the peel. Mash it and use it in your recipe for a deeper flavor.