Long Pie pumpkin has long been my favorite pie pumpkin. From now on, however, it may have to share that spotlight with Winter Luxury, which I grew for the first time this year.

While some people disparage Winter Luxury because it doesn’t have that deep orange color we associate with fall, I see its unique appearance — a pale orange color covered with a lighter-colored netting on its surface, and a perfect, small, round shape — as a special attraction. Sitting alone or in a group, it makes a striking decoration. Mixed with other pumpkins, it contrasts well with their large size and bold color. “A gorgeous ornamental,” says Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Then there’s the pie. I prepared my Winter Luxury by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds, and steaming the two halves in a large pot on the stove, with approximately two inches of water in the bottom of the pot. The flesh was soft within half an hour.

I mixed the easily scooped-out flesh with the usual pumpkin pie ingredients in a blender. The baked pie was creamy and delicious, and had a perfect brown color.

For my next pie, I’ll try baking the whole pumpkin, with a few slits in the skin to allow steam to escape, in a 350-degree oven until it’s soft. Fedco Seeds says this may take about an hour before the pumpkin “slumps,” indicating that it’s ready. I’m thinking it will make the seeds easier to scoop out.

This 100-day, open-pollinated Cucurbita pepo was, says Fedco, introduced in 1893 by Johnson & Stokes as Winter Luxury, and in 1894 as Livingston’s Pie Squash by the seed company A.W. Livingston’s Sons. The original Luxury was more lemon yellow, adds Fedco, but Gill Bros. of Portland, Ore., offered the orange strain in 1917, and Fedco continues to offer that.

Winter Luxury vines are strong and yield three or four, five- to eight-pound pumpkins each. Despite their name, they do not last long into winter. As I cook mine, I get enough from each pumpkin for about two pies. I cook one pie and freeze the remaining flesh for winter pumpkins. Then the Long Pie pumpkins will come out of storage, as well.

David Handley and coworkers tested various pie pumpkins at Highmoor Farm in Monmouth in 2009 (http://umaine.edu/highmoor/research/performance-of-small-fruited-pumpkin-cultivars-in-maine/). While some other varieties produced more fruit than Winter Luxury and scored higher on exterior appearance (maybe because people just aren’t used to a pale pumpkin?), Winter Luxury rated among the best for the color of the cooked flesh. The deep brown color of the pie I cooked suggests the same. I was encouraged to read in the researchers’ report that demand for pie pumpkins seems to be increasing.

And why stop with pie? Here’s a recipe for pumpkin butter that I intend to try with that next cooked Winter Luxury.

Pumpkin Butter

4 c. pumpkin puree

3/4 c. apple juice

2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. mace

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 c. sugar

Bring combined ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes, or until thick. Serve on buttered toast.