In 2003, a team of flavour experts assembled in the Starbucks liquid lab to create the now infamous pumpkin spice latte. It wasn’t long before more companies hopped on board, and now consumers can enjoy the flavor of pumpkin in multiple incarnations.
“The pumpkin-flavoured everything trend is drawing people to the taste of it more. I’ve noticed the interest going up quite a bit,” Melody Schwabe of Schwabe Pumpkins says.
In 2009, when she married into the Schwabe family and began working with them, most people were buying pumpkins purely for decoration.
In recent years, she finds that this has been shifting – and not just among her customers. Local eateries are offering up pumpkin in all sorts of ways.
Across from the Assiniboine Park footbridge, Joe Black Coffee Bar offers customers lattes with real pumpkin and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg on top.
Though the drink is a hot seller this time of year, they also make a caramel cappuccino and apple cider for the season.
“Try it with a shot of salty caramel apple-flavored vodka for an extra shot of warmth,” Gina Gerbasi, owner of Joe Black, says.
The Amsterdam Tea Room in Winnipeg’s Exchange District is offering a pumpkin and spice tea. The leaves - a blend of black tea and rooibos - create a hot drink that has all the spicy tastes of fall with the smooth delivery of a pumpkin pie.
Don’t worry about artificial flavours. Co-owner Mark Turner makes it his mission to find teas with authentic ingredients.
“We wanted to retail loose leaf tea that we love to drink,” Turner says, “which is as natural as possible and as much as we can try to keep it fair trade as well.”
The tea room will debut an additional autumn flavour to be announced and will put together package deals geared toward students looking for elixirs to keep them focused this school year.
In Osborne Village, Kawaii Crepe will bring back their popular pumpkin spice crepe, made from fresh ingredients, the week of Sept. 19. Other fall items will be announced on social media.
Those looking to try something a little different can visit Dwarf No Cachette in St. Boniface.
“Our ramen soup will be blended with homemade kabocha pumpkin purée,” Yasuko Akimoto, the restaurant’s owner, says.
The restaurant will have a few savoury pumpkin options on the menu, but those who prefer something sweet can order a pumpkin and red bean parfait or a pumpkin pie milkshake.
Another option is to make something special at home, Schwabe says. She can’t get enough of the brightly coloured squash.
One thing is clear: if you’re interested in trying pumpkin in a new sort of way, there are plenty of options.
Published in Volume 71, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 15, 2016)