Pies are a staple on every occasion, especially during Thanksgiving. Not only are they easy to make, but the delectable crust and filling provide a fantastic mouthfeel that your tastebuds enjoy.
The thing is, pies are incredibly versatile because any filling or fruit that you incorporate into the dish works.
Some of the most common fillings people use are pumpkins and apples. If you’re indecisive, you must be curious about the differences between the two.
Well, the two are scrumptious desserts, but they have their own pros and cons.
If you’re interested in the differences between pumpkin pie and apple pie, keep reading!
Nutrition and Benefits of Pumpkins and Apples
Health-conscious people will first look at the nutrition that pumpkins and apples carry. Considering that the two provide completely distinct health benefits, knowing what they are is essential.
Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Both of them are carotenoids, which are phytonutrients that act as antioxidants when consumed by humans.
Beta-carotene turns into vitamin A by our liver. It’s the most powerful predecessor of the said vitamin because it helps lower the risk of metabolic syndromes like high blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol.
On the other hand, alpha-carotene also becomes vitamin A, though it’s not as powerful as its beta counterpart. It’s an antioxidant and tends to carry anti-carcinogenic properties.
Pumpkins also carry other minerals and vitamins, such as vitamins K, E, B6, and C. Magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium are present in the fruit as well.
In comparison, apples, especially when fresh, are high in fiber, quercetin, and pectin. These phytochemicals have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties that are useful for our bodies.
Quercetin is a phytochemical that deters inflammation, bacterial growth, and heart diseases by mitigating blood vessel dysfunction. Furthermore, it may contain antihistamine properties that can inhibit the effects of any allergy.
People commonly use pectin as a gelling ingredient when making jams or fruit glazes. However, this phytochemical has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties.
That said, apples can help lower a person’s cholesterol levels.
In addition, apples have lots of fiber, making them low on the glycaemic index. As such, these fruits can help improve insulin sensitivity, vital for preventing diabetes and weight management.
Differences in the Taste of Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie
Now that you know the health benefits of pumpkins and apples, it’s time to gloss over their differences when you use them in pies. Of course, you’ll use different ingredients for the two, so they have distinguishable flavors.
People commonly use sugar, lemon juice, butter, and apples for pie filling. Since the fruit needs to stay covered in a layer of melted sugar, it ferments and obtains a tangy flavor.
However, the sourness of the concoction isn’t strong because it gets enveloped in the creaminess and sweetness of butter. As a result, apple pie fillings are on the sweeter side but have notes of zestiness and richness.
Pumpkins have an herbaceous flavor, to begin with. They typically have a nutty flavor that is calmer in the sense that they’re not sweet but rather savory and earthy.
It’s necessary to put a sweetener like pumpkin spice, butter, and sugar in your mixture to balance out the earthiness of the fruit. Not doing so will leave you with a filling with bland flavors.
Differences in the Crust of Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie
Pumpkin pies and apple pies also differ because of their crusts. The former only uses a single crust, while the latter uses two.
The crust doesn’t significantly affect the flavor of the pie itself, but it gives off a unique texture that people will either like or dislike.
First, pumpkin pies only use a single crust. The bottom crust is the only one that lines the pie plate and holds the filling.
Since the top doesn’t have anything on it, you still have the option to put toppings, like meringue or whipped cream.
Apple pies, on the other hand, have a bottom crust and a top crust. The filling gets sandwiched between the two, giving it a firm and tender texture when eaten.
Differences in Preparation Difficulty
Well, there aren’t that many differences when preparing pumpkin pies and apple pies, especially if you’re going to buy pre-made crusts. You only have to prepare the filling, which isn’t difficult to make.
Apple pie fillings take around 15 minutes to make because you have to cook them on a stove. Although there are pre-made canned versions, nothing beats a homemade one because you can alter the flavors.
The step that takes up a lot of time is peeling and chopping every apple. On top of that, you still have to wait a few minutes before it thickens up.
Pumpkin pie fillings only take five minutes, depending on your method. If you’re using canned puréed pumpkins, you just have to incorporate spice mix, eggs, sugar, and milk into it.
In the case that you’re going to make the crust from scratch, apple pies will still take a longer time to complete. It’s because you have to prepare two sheets.
The Difference in Shelf Life
According to the UCCE Master Food Preservers, pies’ shelf life is similar, no matter what filling you use. However, their common denominator is you have to keep them refrigerated.
Apple pies, or any fruit pies that use sugar, only have a shelf life of four days. You can keep them at room temperature for two days, then refrigerate them for another two days.
If you’re going to keep them in the fridge right after baking them, they can last for seven days. On the other hand, you can freeze them uncovered for four months.
For pumpkin pies or any pie made with eggs, you can store them in the refrigerator for four days. You can also keep them in the freezer for up to two months, although there’s a tendency for the crust to become soggy.
When you’re storing the pumpkin or apple pie at room temperature, avoid placing them under direct sunlight. It’s because heat speeds up the deterioration process of the food by promoting bacterial growth.
Which Pie Is More Popular?
If you think that pumpkin pie is more popular than apple pie and vice versa, you’re right!
Instacart, an American retail company with a grocery delivery and pick-up service, looked at its sales data to determine which pie is the most popular. The period covered was from February 2021 until January 2022.
Apple pie placed third as the most popular pie in the United States. It’s the favorite of Connecticut, Maryland, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
Furthermore, pumpkin pie bagged second place. Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, and four other states prefer this pie over everything else.
Can You Use Pumpkin Pie Spice in Apple Pie?
One thing that everyone loves about pies is their versatility. You can mix and match some ingredients, depending on your preference.
If you’ve run out of apple pie spice blend, you can use pumpkin pie spice as a substitute. After all, they almost have the same set of ingredients, such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
However, remember that pumpkin pie spice may contain ingredients not found in apple pie spice, like clover and ginger. As such, the flavor won’t be the same.
Can You Put Fruits in Pumpkin Pie?
Yes, you can put fruits in your pumpkin pie. There are lots of recipes that substitute fruits as a natural sweetener instead of sugar.
As such, you can incorporate fruits in your pumpkin pie filling, like ripe bananas and dates. Although if you’re going to do this, make sure to use canned pumpkin purée instead of the filling since the latter already has spices.
If you want to put toppings on your dish, you can use cranberries or any fruit of your choice.
There’s no clear winner in the pumpkin pie vs. apple pie discourse unless we’re going to look at the most popular pie in the country.
After all, both pies are delectable and will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. It’s up to you and your guests’ preference as to which pie will best suit your occasion.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.