Sweet Potato VS Pumpkin

The Chicago Sun-Times’ recent article entitled Food Fight: Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato Pie attempts to outline the differences between the two Thanksgiving desserts. What makes sweet potato pie different from a pumpkin pie? The article says that sweet potato pie is lighter on the spices and texture and is sweetened with molasses, while pumpkin pie is all about the spices. If you think about it, pumpkin without all the sugar and spices would be pretty bland. Lucky for us, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and can survive, and in fact be pretty darn tasty, without any sugar or spices, which I think is the most important difference between the two.

Felix Salmon, a finance blogger at Reuters, investigated the rise in pumpkin-related dishes on menus in 2012 and found that most of the ‘pumpkin dishes’ didn’t even have pumpkin in them.

“Pumpkin is a way of saying sugar, and nutmeg, and clove, and cinnamon, and all those autumnal spices. It’s not really about pumpkin at all. People don’t actually like the taste of pumpkin,” Salmon says. “They like the taste of fall.” We sweet potato lovers know that sweet potatoes have a flavor all of its own, maybe that’s why they survive on menus year-round rather than just in the fall. Read more about Felix’s investigation here.

The Commission is working on a signature sweet potato pie recipe for you, but in the meantime check out this rum-laced one by Ruth Reichl!

Sweet Potato Pie

by Ruth Reichl for Epicurious

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and roast them on a shallow baking pan in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 1-1/4 hours. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F, and place a shallow baking pan on the bottom rack.
  4. Scoop the flesh from potatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Add the melted butter mixture to the sweet potatoes with the milk and the eggs and beat with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (the filling will be quite liquid). Pour the filling into the pie shell.
  5. Carefully transfer the pie to the heated shallow baking pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bake until the filling is just set, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool.

2 comments on “Sweet Potato VS Pumpkin

  1. Can you please tell me what the equivalent of 2 medium sweet potatoes is if I am using canned pureed sweet potato instead? Thanks.

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