Can you even have a Thanksgiving menu without a pumpkin pie? No way. But holiday baking preparations can be super stressful—especially if you're new to the prep game. The key to a more relaxed Thanksgiving Day is organization. If you can get a handle on your considerable Thanksgiving shopping list, then you'll feel better. But there are other ways to get ahead of the game. You can ask for help (seriously, make people help you), and you can also get a head start on a few baking projects before the big day, including one of the most important centerpieces of your Thanksgiving dessert spread: the aforementioned pumpkin pie.
Purists may point out that pumpkin pie was not served at the first Thanksgiving dinner, and they would be right. But it's become a staple of the season, inspiring a host of other desserts like pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin bars. So even if you have a dining table full of family and friends, if everyone brings a pumpkin dessert, you might end up with a surplus of sweets after the party is over and your houseguests leave. But that doesn't mean the pumpkin pie is destined for the trash bin. Lucky for all of us, it's pretty easy to preserve a pumpkin pie by freezing it, keeping it pristine for another day!
Can you freeze a pumpkin pie after baking?
You sure can! This is the recommended way to preserve a pie, but don't try to freeze an uncooked pie. Traditional piecrust has such a high fat content that it freezes surprisingly well, so no need to worry about sub-par crust crunch (provided you follow the instructions below). Whether you've just finished (most of) your Thanksgiving meal or are preparing in advance for a giant turkey-day crowd, it's easy to pack up your pumpkin pie in a freezer-friendly way.
Note two important items to have on hand: an aluminum pie plate and plenty of plastic wrap. The reusable tin, while not quite as charming as your grandmother's favorite antique piece, will minimize freeze time because it's much thinner than ceramic or other materials. Shorter freeze time means fewer chances for ice crystals to form, leading to a fresher result after defrosting.
Before clearing space in your freezer, be sure to let the pie cool completely. Then cover thoroughly with multiple layers of plastic wrap. A tighter seal prevents unwanted air and moisture from messing with the pie's consistency and texture during its time in the icebox. (Of course, feel free to finish off with a layer of aluminum foil for an additional protective barrier.)
Can you freeze pumpkin pie filling?
Yes! Should you ever find yourself facing a surplus of filling, the extra can easily be salvaged and saved for future baking endeavors. Just transfer the leftover filling into freezer-safe zip-top bags, freeze for up to five days, and thaw it in the refrigerator for a few hours when you're ready to use it. (A trick to speed up this thawing process: Submerge each bag in a bowl or tub of lukewarm water.)
How long can you keep a baked pumpkin pie in the freezer?
Frozen pumpkin pies are best consumed within a four-week window—all the more reason to continue the holiday celebrations as soon as possible!
How do you defrost a pumpkin pie?
About 12 hours before serving the pie, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Whatever you do, don't thaw at room temp! This causes the filling to "weep," or form extra moisture, which leads to a soggy crust. And nobody—nobody!—wants a soggy piecrust. Once thawed completely, remove it from the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature before serving. Remove the plastic wrap, and garnish with whipped cream to cover up any unsightly wrinkles the wrap may have caused.
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