By Laura Kohler
Love it or hate it: it’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin spice time! Made famous originally by the eponymous Starbucks latte, it’s now used to flavor all manner of products. Everything from Cheerios to Baileys, to wine, yogurt and even marshmallow Peeps are being produced with “pumpkin spice” flavor. But what is it really?
Pumpkin spice draws its name from the spices used in pumpkin pie: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Together they make a distinctive flavor combination that is unique to pumpkin pie, a flavor that North Americans associate with fall, when pumpkins are in season, which is why the pumpkin spice flavor trend is a fall trend.
But here’s the thing: just because a product is labeled “pumpkin spice” does not mean it actually contains any pumpkin, or any real spices. The “pumpkin spice” descriptor on foods can refer to the spice flavor alone, or to the addition of pumpkin flavor as well. And usually, that’s really all they’re adding – artificial flavor. Two foods labeled pumpkin spice may taste very different, because the flavor combinations added are different, which is one of the reasons the taste is so polarizing.
You may find that even though you hate the Starbucks drink, or the Kahlua flavor, you actually love the real spices the flavoring is based on.
The good news is that pumpkin spice is very easy to make at home, and you can add the spices in whatever ratio you like, and use it to flavor whatever you like, or make it into a syrup and add it to your coffee for a quick at-home fix.
The first PSL of the season is always the best!