Kathleen Collins/The Daily Meal
For many, the holiday season is not complete without a big slice of homemade pumpkin pie, topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. With crumbly pastry and a delicately spiced pumpkin custard filling, what’s not to love? There are so many great pumpkin pie recipes and variations, but for some savvy shoppers, homemade pumpkin pie is no longer on the docket.
Costco shoppers are a devoted group of people and they swear by many Costco products. The $4.99 rotisserie chicken is just one of the iconic items that have shoppers flocking to stores. Like the chain’s famous chicken, Costco’s pumpkin pie also has a devoted fan base. There’s even an unofficial Facebook page and Twitter account where fans talk about how much they love the pies and announce when they spot the first pies of the season!
These pies are huge and affordable, and it really is no surprise that people love them as much as they do. But how much goes into the production of these oh-so-special pies? Read on to find out 15 things you didn’t know about Costco’s $5.99 pumpkin pie!
Each pie weighs a whopping 58 oz, which is more than 3.5 pounds and is a full foot in diameter, meaning one pie goes a long way.
They only cost $5.99! When you consider the size of each pie, it’s no wonder that people love to buy these pumpkin pies. Even if you were to make your own from-scratch pumpkin pie, you’d be hard-pressed to make a pie for less than $6, which means the Costco pumpkin pies could easily be one of the foods you should always buy at Costco.
Costco swears by the variety of pumpkin that goes into their pies. The variety is called Dickenson, the same used by the well-known brand of pumpkin puree Libby’s. The funny thing is, Dickenson pumpkins are actually more similar to squash than to ground pumpkins — the ones we associate with fall, Halloween and pumpkin carving. The flesh is less watery, which results in a better filling even though they aren’t really pumpkins at all!
The seeds that are removed from the thousands of tons of pumpkins that are harvested each year are apparently sold to a company that makes bird food, so they don’t go to waste!
If you’ve ever made your own pumpkin puree you probably only cooked it once before using it in a recipe. The pumpkins that go into the Costco pumpkin pies are actually cooked twice, once when they are in chunks, before being pureed and then again, once they have been canned. They are cooked for an additional five and a half hours and are then cooled, labeled and shipped to different Costco warehouses.
The uncooked pie shells are filled by hand using a scale to ensure they weigh the perfect amount before being baked. Apparently an experienced baker can fill as many as 48 pie shells in just seven minutes!
Made in house, the pie dough is shaped into balls and then pressed by a special machine to form pie shells that are then filled and baked.
The pies have been around for over 30 years, and judging by their popularity they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
According to the Costco Connection, the recipe comes directly from the personal recipe collection of Sue McConnaha — the vice president of Costco’s bakery operations.
A quick look at the ingredients will inform you that the Costco pumpkin pies are preservative free and that the pies should be kept in the refrigerator. But did you know that you can actually freeze pie fairly easily? All you need to do is wrap the pie carefully in a plastic wrap (make sure it is cold when you do this) then store it in the freezer until you need it. Defrost it overnight in the fridge rather than at room temperature (which might make the crust go soggy) and there you go! Freezing pies is the perfect way to get ahead on some Thanksgiving prep.
Buying pies at Costco is certainly a seasonal affair. The pumpkin pies go on sale as early as August in some stores and can be purchased throughout the holidays. But for Costco employees, pie season never stops! As soon as the pies stop being sold, the team behind the pies begins making projections for the upcoming year and reaching out to farmers so they know how many pumpkins to plant.
They sell more than 5 million pies each year and have been known to sell almost 2 million in the days leading up the Thanksgiving, which might come as no surprise since so many fans of this pie probably consider it to be deserving of a place on the ultimate list of all the best pies ever.
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