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Canned pumpkin in Ecuador?

claurena Nov 14, 2006 01:28 AM

I want to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but I can't seem to find canned pumpkin here where I am in Quito, Ecuador. Anyone have any information for me?

  1. m
    MakingSense Nov 15, 2006 04:25 AM

    Fresh pumpkin may be preferable to canned but in a baking recipe it might not work. The fresh may have too high a water content. Remember that the original recipe may have been developed using canned pumpkin as many pie recipes are.

    A lot of American expats have problems recreating their favorite foods while living abroad because they can't get some of the ingredients they need and there are no suitable local substitutes. The recipes have to be adapted or they beg visiting friends and relatives to bring things to them. Even something as simple as the local sugar in some countries completely changes your favorite cookie recipe. Then you find favorites abroad that you can never make in the US even with the best ethnic grocery stores.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MakingSense
      paulj Nov 15, 2006 04:20 PM

      Joy of Cooking (1997) has instructions for using fresh pumpkin in place of canned. It talks about baking it till very soft, then pureeing it (I'd use a food mill). If it seems wet, drain it (weighted if necessary) till it has the same consistency as canned.


      1. re: MakingSense
        Eat_Nopal Nov 16, 2006 08:51 PM

        With the high altitude of Quito, I expect she is going to have more baking challenges than just the water content of freshly cooked squash.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal
          paulj Nov 16, 2006 11:41 PM

          The altitude makes a difference when baking cakes and such, and extends the cooking time for items boiled in water. I'm not aware of it making a difference when cooking a custard (which is what a pumpkin pie is). It would be wise to test for consistency, rather than depend on recipe times.


          1. re: paulj
            MakingSense Nov 17, 2006 12:26 AM

            Paulj is right about the altitude thing. You have to adjust just as you would for Denver and such in the US and that's for cakes, etc. The bigger problem is local ingredients which are just different. The sugar is less refined with bigger crystals, slightly tan. Cream is not standard, butter has different water/fat contents, flour is not always milled to the same dimensions; I always weighed it. You have to measure eggs by volume since they aren't sized.
            None of my dependable US recipes worked when I first started cooking there so I learned to adapt while I lived in Quito. Some stuff just wasn't available so I'd get it when I traveled to the US - like chocolate chips. Yeah, in the land where chocolate comes from!
            The biggest difference as Paulj says is boiling because water never reaches 212.
            Mostly I just gave up and lived "on the economy" and did without American products and recipes.

      2. n
        newbiefoodie Nov 14, 2006 02:38 PM

        Just to echo everyone else-- use fresh squash. You can either bake it (in pieces) at 350-400 degrees for an hour or until tender or steam it (whole) in water until you can pierce it with a fork. Just mash up the flesh and use that instead of canned pumpkin. Your pie will taste a thousand times better using fresh squash/pumpkin instead of canned.

        1. paulj Nov 14, 2006 07:41 AM

          according to this web page
          canned pumpkin, at least Libbys is a Dickenson field squash, which cross polinates with butternut.
          see also
          and this page
          implies that the West Indian pumpkin is the same thing, or close to, the Dickenson

          1. paulj Nov 14, 2006 07:24 AM

            The Book of Latin American Cooking, Elisabeth Ortiz has an Ecuadorian recipe for 'Torta de Zapallo', pumpkin cake.

            It calls for West Indian pumpkin (calabaza) or any winter squash (e.g. hubbard). It is cooked till tender, then cooked further with cinnamon, sugar, cream, and butter. Then rum, raisins, and greated cheese and eggs are added. It is then baked.

            She also has a version of Ecuadorian Pristinos (fritters) with pumpkin.

            Another Ecuadorian cookbook has a recipe for 'Zapallo de dulce' (pumpkin candy?), in which chunks of this pumpkin are simmered in a syrup made with panela (raw brown sugar), cinnamon, and cloves.

            That book also has recipes for soup that call for either zapallo or zambo (a white squash).

            Squashes originated in this part of the world.


            A web site with these Ortiz recipes

            1 Reply
            1. re: paulj
              claurena Nov 15, 2006 01:30 AM

              i actually went searching for fresh pumpkin or butternut squash earlier today and encountered said zapallo in one grocery store closeby, already cut into pieces for baking. thanks so much for your input!

              ps 'dulce de zapallo' would basically be pumpkin in syrup, rather than candy; they do that here a lot with figs, tomate de arbol, etc.

            2. paulj Nov 14, 2006 04:19 AM

              I wonder if one of the locally available squashes (calabasa) would work. According to Joy of Cooking the Jack-o-lantern pumpkin isn't all that great for pie.


              1. r
                RiJaAr Nov 14, 2006 02:42 AM

                a friend of mine made a similar pie with carrot instead of pumpkin and after it was spiced, nobody knew the difference

                1. m
                  MakingSense Nov 14, 2006 02:07 AM

                  There are some stalls at the Santa Clara Market that have some products imported from the US.
                  If you know anyone from the US Embassy, the Commissary has things like that but it's only open to Embassy staff.
                  The large supermarkets near the neighborhoods where a lot of expats live might stock it or a similar product.
                  I lived there years ago and we got creative, planned way ahead so that we brought things from the US or simply did without.

                  1. MikeG Nov 14, 2006 02:04 AM

                    I have no idea if such a thing even exists in Ecuador, but if you have that much trouble finding it, look for a variety of potato (which shouldn't be hard there, I imagine) akin to American sweet potatoes. A lot of people can't tell the difference after it's sweetened and spiced, and in any event is quite good in its own right.

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