Fall is here, and so is pumpkin spice flavored . . . well, EVERYTHING!
But what exactly is pumpkin spice? Many people think it is an actual, single spice but in reality it is a combination of spices, blended in or with pumpkin, which gives us the rich, warm flavor everyone loves so much.
Pumpkins, as most of us know, ripen and are harvested in the fall and can be stored for up to 90 days, otherwise known as the “fall season.” Pumpkin is a squash with a thick skin, a stringy center filled with seeds – also edible when dried or roasted – and varying amounts of flesh which can be cooked in a multitude of ways. Now, it is important to note that pumpkin, in and of itself, has a very bland flavor and would never have become so popular on its own.
Introducing…drum roll please…CINNAMON! As early as the 15th century, cinnamon was added to pumpkin giving it a warm, spicy flavor. The uses, recipes and popularity of pumpkin in cooking, baking and flavoring changed and grew over time and through the ages, on through to the modern era. In the United States, pumpkin pie has been a classic staple of fall and winter due to its heavy, filling texture and warm, rich flavoring.
The Popularity of Pumpkin Spice
Things really picked up for “pumpkin spice” when, in 2003, Starbucks first introduced the Pumpkin Spiced Late (PSL), a seasonal drink that was a hit from its first year out. Since then, we have witnessed an ever-growing range of pumpkin spice flavored food choices, from coffees and beverages to ice cream, cookies and cakes. Breads and bagels are being offered in pumpkin spiced flavors along with shakes and smoothies. Even pumpkin spiced scented candles and air fresheners are popular in the fall and winter!
How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin spice as we have come to know it now involves a bit more than simply adding cinnamon to pumpkin. You can experiment with making your own “pumpkin spice” by mixing ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. This mixture can be added to all manner of baked goods, coffees and beverages and other treats.
Have some fun this fall and enjoy that pumpkin spice!