While some have declared that we've reached Peak Pumpkin Spice, there's no denying that the seasonal flavor is in... well... everything. Lattes, breads, chips, M&Ms, cookies, crackers. You name it, if it comes out in October and November, you can be sure that it will have pumpkin in it, and you can be sure that it's going to sell.
But homemade pumpkin pie made with fresh spices is one thing. Manufactured pumpkin flavor is quite another. And by another, I mean, it doesn't really have anything to do with pumpkin. The New York Times made a video looking at what's really in pumpkin spice, giving us a visual of all the compounds we're consuming under the auspices of eating the orange squash.
Like the video points out, pumpkin's "delicate earthy taste it too subtle" to stand up to the fats and sugars of most processed foods, so food manufacturers do what they do best: make up a compound that tastes like the real thing. As many as 80 different additives can be blended to mimic the taste of pumpkin pie.
Obsessed with all the pumpkin flavor the season has to offer? Ask yourself if you're eating real pumpkin or a manufactured version. The pumpkin trend is similar to what you get with strawberry flavored candy. That taste has nothing to do with a real strawberry and yet somehow people come to equate the synthetic flavoring with the natural food. Do this test: sit down with a bowl of roasted pumpkin and a pumpkin spice latte and see if you can tell the difference. If you can't, you may want to get your tastebuds checked.
What's in real pumpkin spice? Well, for starters, real pumpkin - and of course, pumpkin puree that you can use to make a pumpkin pie is super simple to make yourself. Then all you need is a few spices: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. There you go, you made your own pumpkin spice. Now go forth and make your own pumpkin spiced products, you'll find that the taste is much more authentic.
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