Can you imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? There's a chance that some dessert tables may not include the traditional treat this year. We may have a canned pumpkin shortage on our hands.
About 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States are grown in Illinois within a 90-mile radius of Peoria. In the spring, a record rainfall washed out a lot of the crop, according to The Chicago Tribune. Libby, the largest manufacturer of canned pumpkin, says supplies may be off by as much as one-third this year.
The company says there's no reason to panic, though. Roz O'Hearn, Libby's corporate and brand affairs director, says the company is "confident it will have enough pumpkin for autumn holidays."
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This isn't the first time we've heard cries of an ill-timed canned pumpkin shortage. In the fall of 2009, Libby warned of a pumpkin shortage caused by weather conditions. I don't recall an actual pumpkin emergency that year, and most people had pumpkin puree — either canned or homemade — to use in pies, breads and pancakes.
So while the pie experts are warning to buy canned pumpkin as soon as you see it on the store shelves, I have to wonder if this type of warning doesn't make people buy more than they need, and then what happens? They end up donating several cans to food shelters in the spring — or worse, throwing them out without opening them. So, while it may be smart to buy a few cans early, don't buy more than you need.
You may also consider buying local pumpkins at the farmers market or spending an afternoon picking pumpkins in a pumpkin patch. You can make your own pumpkin puree that is similar to canned. The trick is to strain out the excess moisture, as this video shows:
If all else fails, and there's no pumpkin for your pie, you can make a pumpkin pie substitute like sweet potato pie or butternut squash pie.
Above all, don't panic. In 2014, the Nutella shortage didn't ruin kids' breakfasts, the short-lived lime shortage didn't stop cocktail creations, and no one stormed out of Super Bowl party in protest over the Velveeta shortage. In fact, like the 2009 canned pumpkin shortage, those foods seemed easy enough to find on store shelves, despite the dire warnings.