This time of year food based social media is dominated by Autumnal bounty of the Northern hemisphere and there are regular comments of “Pumpkin spice” in many many forms.
The thing is, outside of the North American continent, this is an unknown mix, or at least an unknown name for an existing mix of exotic ingredients. So to read about this regularly is like getting the traffic report for a distant foreign city in a country you have never visited – mildly interesting but makes no real sense as you have no idea what they mean.
So I did the research, trawled the internet, read through a wide selection of US and Canadian cookbooks and asked a few people, and narrowed the flavours down.
“Must haves” that aren’t
What I found were most recipes agreed on three ingredients, namely Cinnamon, Ginger and Allspice. but in wildly different quantities. After that it was a free-for-all as to what else was in this mix.
On one recipe a “must have” would be listed on another as “not to be used“. Some insisted on having Pumpkin in the recipe, others omitted it. The same for Sugar, Maple Syrup, Salt, Black Pepper, Juniper, Cumin, Chilli or Vanilla, to name a few. The list was soon getting ridiculous.
AND don’t start me on how much of each, or whether it was by ounce, cup, gram, bushel, bucket or handful!
But wait thats…
Then when I looked at these recipes, I soon realised that they were similar combinations adjusted each time, or copied and amended as each cook chose to make their mark, or mixed up what was available with what they liked, to add extra flavour to the glut of the orange ground fruit.
Many of the Pumpkin spice recipes are similar to old European recipes for things like Easter Bun Spice, Christmas Mince Pie spice and a few other mixes that are stars in their own right in Middle Eastern or Asian desserts.
Which on reflection is quite easily explained; Colonists and settlers to the “New World” would have limited availability to certain ingredients and use what they have to hand. Mix what they knew with substitutes, omissions and preferences that would further shape the ingredients and flavours.
So when it came to choosing and mixing for the test recipes, I went through as best I could, even having a spreadsheet of all the spices I found, and then the percentage by weight of each spice in that recipe. It then became a combination of trial and error to get something I and my family liked as that was all that seemed to matter.
Not one, but two
This led to two simple recipes that could be thrown together in less time than it would take to read this post. I therefore give you recipe 1 and recipe 2. These are in teaspoons or tablespoons, but you can easily convert to grams, buckets or handfuls as the spices appear to weigh more or less the same amount at this scale.
Note – there is no Pumpkin in either of these recipes, as this will prolong the shelf life of the spice. I would suggest to add freshly cooked pumpkin at about 1 part spice to 20, or 1 teaspoon to 100g vegetable. This also allows this mix to then be used in some other great dishes when you don’t want pumpkin in there.
Recipe 1 – “Pumpkin Spice”
- 2 level Teaspoons Ground Dutch Cinnamon
- 2 level Teaspoons Ground Ginger
- ¼ level Teaspoon Ground Allspice
- ¼ level Teaspoon Ground Mace
Recipe 2 – “Pumpkin Spice”
- 3 level Tablespoons Ground Dutch Cinnamon
- 3 level Tablespoons Ground Ginger
- 2 level Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
- 1½ level Teaspoons Ground Allspice
- 1½ level Teaspoons Ground Cloves
Method – for either recipe
- Measure each ingredient carefully and place in a bowl
- Mix well
- Store in a clean glass jar, with a tight fitting lid, out of bright light, and use as your subsequent recipe requires.