It’s October, Time For All Things Pumpkin
It’s beginning to look a lot like pumpkin at The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. We’re putting pumpkin in everything from grits to fudge to liqueur to celebrate the season of squash.
There’s Pumpkin Butter in the Farmhouse Kitchen. Pumpkin Fudge in the newly remodeled Candy Kitchen. Pumpkin Cream Liqueur in the Old Forge Distillery Pumpkin Cream Pies in the Pottery House Cafe. The Creamery is churning up Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. Even our potters are in on this pumpkin fest, hand-crafting jack-o-lanterns. Buy one to use as a centerpiece for your holiday dining table or to place on the porch back home to welcome friends and family.
Flavors like pumpkin and spice taste better this time of year, waking up our palates and making us think of the holidays ahead. The Great Smoky Mountains are blanketed in gold-leaved trees, the air cools off, and the stone wheels grind corn in our historic Old Mill. Families come to visit us.
We’ll have caramel-dipped apples and maple fudge, and our signature pecan pie in our Restaurant. Our Farmhouse Kitchen is stocked with soup mixes and all kinds of gift ideas for cooks. But the star of the show this season is pumpkin, because no food symbolizes fall like pumpkins do.
Pumpkins and their Place in American Cooking
Pumpkins were one of the first native food crops grown in America, along with corn, beans and tomatoes. Pumpkins originated in Central America and Mexico, but throughout U.S. history they’ve been an important part of our fall cooking. I mean, what would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie?
The first Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration in the November 1621 attended by English colonists and the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth, Mass. Brace yourself: There was no pumpkin pie at the first celebration, because the colonists didn’t have butter or wheat flour for a crust. There may have been a savory custard made of pumpkin on the table in Plymouth. But no pie.
Over the years, cooks added spices, crusts and other flavor enhancers and the humble, easy-to-grow pumpkin became the basic ingredient in all sorts of pies, puddings, soups, and stews. Pumpkin pie became a thing in the mid-1800s when it became stylish for Americans to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes with holiday meals. Fast forward to present day, and we’re putting pumpkin in everything from coffee to donuts to whiskey. Seventeenth-century cooks would be proud of our 21st century kitchen ingenuity.
The appeal of pumpkin is practical. It’s nutritious, because it’s squash, and an average-sized pumpkin weighs 30 or 40 pounds, yielding enough flesh and edible seeds to feed a crowd. The largest pumpkin on record, says the Guinness Book of World Records, was grown in Germany in 2014 and weighed more than a ton. Pumpkin flesh can be stewed or baked, puréed into pies or chopped and roasted. The seeds can be roasted as snack food. And in cold months, pumpkins keep for months in a root cellar or refrigerator.
So swing by The Old Mill for a taste of the season: Pumpkin season.