I think you all know I live in Illinois. Specifically, I live in Chicago, but there is a lot of Illinois to the south and even a bit to the north of Chicago.
Today I want to talk about pumpkin production in Illinois. It is October. Pumpkin time.
I pulled a bunch of statistics from an article online that lays out the production of pumpkin in Illinois. I don’t know about you, but I found this fascinating. As a child in Wisconsin I looked forward every fall to getting in the car with my mom to go pick a couple of pumpkins to carve for Halloween. I had no idea what was going on down a little further south.
An Illinois farm likely grew both your Halloween pumpkin (known in the industry as ornamental) and the prime ingredient in your Thanksgiving pie (called processing pumpkins).
When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the competition. Prairie State farmers grow more ornamental and canning-type pumpkins than any other state. In fact, Illinois produced more than twice as many pumpkins as second-ranked to California.
More than 90 percent of the nation’s canning pumpkins grow in Illinois, says Mohammad Babadoost, a plant pathologist and professor at the University of Illinois.
Illinois earns the top rank for several reasons. Pumpkins grow well in its climate and in certain soil types. And in the 1920s, a pumpkin processing industry was established in Illinois. Decades of experience and dedicated research help Illinois maintain its edge in pumpkin production.
Two pumpkin processing facilities exist in Illinois today -- Nestle Libby’s in Morton and Seneca Foods in Princeville, both located near Peoria. I’ve never been to the countryside around Peoria. Might have to check that out.
Rows of pumpkins are harvested before being taken to the Nestle/Libby’s plant in Morton, Ill. Morton is known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World.
Farms throughout the state grew more than 278,000 tons last year. That translates to millions of pumpkins.
The Difference Between Pumpkins You Eat and Pumpkins You Carve...
Related Recipes at PlanZDiet.com:
Pumpkin Icebox Pie
This is a ZReboot recipe. This pie is a breeze to put together for a holiday. No need to bake the filling in the oven. Just 10 minutes to bake the crust and the rest sets up in the refrigerator. EASY! I found an Epicurious recipe that inspired me and then I got to work taking out all of the gluten and most of the sugar. Still tastes holiday ready! BIG YUM!
Servings: Serves 8-10.
For the crust, use my Snickerdoodle Pie Crust, or use whatever crust recipe you like best.
4 ounces of cream cheese softened to room temp. If your cream cheese is cold you can zap it in your microwave on medium for 15 seconds and that will loosen it up to use in a recipe.
¾ cup of pumpkin puree
¼ cup of maple syrup
1-1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice mix
¼ tsp of grated sea salt
1-2 Tbl of granulated Swerve or ZSweet (These are natural sweeteners perfect for baking. Order them online or watch for them in stores.)
1 Tbl of brandy or bourbon (if you don’t cook with alcohol just skip this)
¼ cup of maple syrup
1-3/4 tsp of unflavored gelatin
1 cup of whipping cream (divided)
2 cups of whipping cream
1 Tbl of powdered Swerve to sweeten the whipping cream
1 tsp of vanilla
Beat the cream cheese and pumpkin puree in a bowl until lightly smooth and fluffy. This will take a good minute. Add the syrup, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix with your mixer to get this stirred in. Be sure to wipe down the side of the bowl to get it all mixed in.
On your stove use a small sauce pan to add the water, gelatin and optional liquor. Stir over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves. This won’t take even a minute. Set aside for it to cool for two minutes and then add it to the pumpkin mixture. Stir it in by hand.
In another bowl, put in the cup of whipping cream. Mix with a mixer on high speed until the whipping cream forms stiff peaks. Don’t overbeat or it will start to become butter.
Gently fold the whipping cream into the pumpkin mixture until it’s fully incorporated. I do this with a spatula so I can gently keep turning the mixture over until it folds in and not big streaks of white remain.
Pour this into your cooled crust and smooth the top. Set in your refrigerator to cool and set up. This will take about six hours.
To Top Your Pie:
In a bowl add two cups of whipping cream, the sweetener and the vanilla. Beat on high speed until the cream forms peaks. You can decorate your pie before serving like I did, or you can just serve each piece with a dollop of whipped cream.