Recipe: Verna Schumacher's Pumpkin PieOct 31, 2022 ● By Veronica Hinke
The Iron Bridge Trailhead at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, in Wilmington, wasn’t always a trailhead. Until the 1940s, several families farmed the land, including the Schumacher family. On their Fairview Farm, Verna and Arthur Schumacher grew a variety of crops, including pumpkins. Each year in the fall, Verna made pies with the pumpkins. Verna Schumacher made pie every day. The Schumacher family ate pie each day, and sometimes twice a day. Sometimes breakfast was pie. She also processed some of the pumpkins and froze them for later use.
In the Schumacher farmhouse, there were two stoves. One was a wood-burning stove that Verna would use to bake her pies during the cold winter months. The other was a modern electric stove she used during the summer months to bake.
Pumpkin is a fruit that is a source of antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins A, B2, C and E; plus fiber, potassium, manganese and iron.
Some Baking Points:
Make your own pie crust dough or buy frozen pie crust dough. For her pie crusts, Verna utilized eggs and lard that came directly from the family farm.
To tell when a fruit pie is fully cooked, look for crispy edges and golden-brown crust. The filling should be bubbling. Let the pie bubble for five minutes before removing the pie from the oven.
Let pie cool for at least one hour for the best consistency.
Verna Schumacher’s Pumpkin Pie
Yield: 1 pie
1 homemade or purchased pie crust (for a 9-inch, deep-dish pie pan)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1⅔ cups whole milk
1½ cups cooked pumpkin
(or 15-ounce can)
(or 15-ounce can)
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
Prepare the pie crust and add to the pie pan.
Beat together eggs and sugar; then add in salt. Blend all this and pour into a deep-dish, 9-inch pie shell. Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes, and then decrease temperature to 350° F for 45 minutes.
Baking items used to make pumpkin pies and more at Fairview Farm are on display in the Elwood Village Hall and in the Island Park District community center, in Wilmington.
For more information about the farm history of the Midewin prairies, visit Tinyurl.com/MidewinHistory.
Veronica Hinke is a USDA forest service supervisory public affairs specialist at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.