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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Spiced Pumpkin Puree


Spiced Pumpkin Puree

Lynley Jones

Sort of like pumpkin pie without the crust. The Pilgrims called this "Stewed Pompion." A great side dish to pay homage to the "first" Thanksgiving at your feast.

Extremely simple to make, and all ingredients (except one) were available at the time. See notes for more on the history and fun facts.

Serves 6-8


Stewed Pompion (spiced pumpkin puree) made in the Adventure Kitchen.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons apple cider

1 tsp coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground allspice 

¼ cup maple syrup


1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 

2. Add the pumpkin and the rest of the ingredients, stirring to combine. Put the lid askew and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the mixture is hot and bubbly and begins to darken a bit.


I originally created this recipe for a class I was teaching to local children about the "first" Thanksgiving (called Time Warp Cooking!). I based this recipe on the foodways research at the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, but then modified the ingredients somewhat as described below.

The Pilgrims made good use of pumpkins, a new world food, and this dish was considered a "standing dish," which meant it could always be found bubbling away in Pilgrim kitchens on any given day when pumpkins were around.

If you're serving this at your Thanksgiving table, you might be interested in some historical notes on the ingredients in this version:

I've included apple cider in this recipe because it's delicious and seasonal, and helps to give the dish a pleasant consistency. But actually, there were no apples in North America yet at the time of the "first" Thanksgiving.

Maple syrup was first made by the native Wampanoag people. I sometimes joke that at the time of the "first" Thanksgiving, the Wampanoag had already "won" the dessert arms race! They had been making maple syrup for generations, whereas the pilgrims didn't bring any sugar with them on the Mayflower. So if the pilgrims wanted to sweeten anything, they would have had to borrow some maple syrup from the Wampanoag.

There's no evidence whether the Pilgrims had learned about maple syrup yet at the time of that first feast, and doubtful they would have had any to add to stewing pumpkins. But I've included it here because it was definitely included in Pilgrim recipes from later periods, and it's delicious!

And mostly, I like bringing foods together that symbolize both peoples who attended the "first" Thanksgiving, and evoke the spirit of hospitality of the holiday today.