With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to taste-test some pumpkin pies. So last week, I challenged my friends to see if they could taste the difference between homemade pie and pumpkin pie from a can. Here’s what happened.
Making the Pies
The night before, I baked both pies using pre-made graham cracker crusts and following the recipes printed on the backs of the cans. The first pie featured pure pumpkin puree, whereas the second pie used pumpkin pie filling (which already included the sugar and spices). Otherwise, the baking times were the same, and both recipes called for eggs and evaporated milk.
Both pies smelled amazing once they started baking in the oven. But when I took them out to cool, I noticed that the pumpkin pie filling looked unusually more orange than the homemade batch. Overall, it took a lot of willpower to keep myself from eating the pies myself before the actual event.
What the Judges Thought
I invited all my friends to my dorm and gave everyone a slice from each pie. Before eating, I asked them to guess which they thought was homemade and which they thought came out of a can. First came the homemade slice:
“This is obviously the homemade one, because the color looks more natural.”
“Wait, the way you cut this slice makes it look too perfect to be homemade.”
“Both of them smell the same, but I can sort of tell from the color that this one’s homemade.”
Next came the pumpkin pie filling slice:
“Can someone explain to me why this one’s so orange?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pumpkin look this orange.”
“Looks kind of mushy. I mean, I’ll still eat it if it tastes good.”
Once they finished guessing, I had them taste both slices and asked again what their thoughts were:
“The lighter-colored one tastes less sweet, but the spices are a lot more balanced. Like, I can definitely taste the cinnamon and ginger.”
“The spices in the darker one taste really flat.”
“The textures are a little different, too. The lighter-colored one holds its shape more, but the other slice just kind of falls apart.”
“If this light-colored one is the homemade one, I need you to bake me more tomorrow.”
In the end, everyone could correctly distinguish between the homemade pumpkin pie and pumpkin pie from a can. They also preferred the homemade slice over the pumpkin pie mix slice.
If you’re planning on making pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, skip the pumpkin pie mix and make a homemade pumpkin pie instead. The flavors are much more balanced, and considering that both recipes take the same amount of prep time, it’ll be worth your time to make your own pie from scratch.
(WARNING: serving your guests homemade pumpkin pie may also cause whipped cream coma.)