My apologies for the late post. I really have no excuses to offer, but I do have some lovely pumpkin juice I whipped up at my parents’ house. Since it’s a grey, dismal morning here in Eugene, this might just be the perfect thing–it’ll warm you up just reading about it. Try making this while you carve pumpkins or host an autumn/Halloween party. While it’s very simple, it’s special enough for a get together.
Pumpkin juice is mentioned throughout the series. One of its first notable mentions occurs in the second book when Harry and Ron are flying to Hogwarts in the borrowed Ford Anglia and think about it longingly after they’ve had their fill of toffees. Pumpkin juice is one of the hallmarks of the wizarding world, along with butterbeer. Much of the food consumed at Hogwarts is fairly standard English fare, and these drinks along with the candies at Honeyduke’s really inject an atmosphere of magic into the otherwise mundane food. In the Goblet of Fire there is an injection of more exotic or foreign food when the Beauxbatons and the Durmstrang students come, but pumpkin juice remains a familiar constant. Unlike butterbeer however, it’s a drink that not all readers of the series remember and it has the tendency to fade into the background.
This mention of pumpkin juice comes from the moment Hermione learns that there are house-elves working in the castle and becomes the impetus for S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare):
“Yeah, we thought Peeves seemed hacked off about something,” said Ron darkly. “So what did he do in the kitchens?”
“Oh the usual,” said Nearly Headless Nick, shrugging. “Wreaked havoc and mayhem. Pots and pans everywhere. Place swimming in soup. Terrified the house-elves out of their wits–”
Hermione had knocked over her golden goblet. Pumpkin juice spread steadily over the tablecloth, staining several feet of white linen orange, but Hermione paid no attention.
“There are house-elves here?” she said, staring, horrorstruck, at Nearly Headless Nick. “Here at Hogwarts?” (181)
Pumpkin juice is so much a part of the background of the story, and a background of the magical world, that it fulfills a role not unlike the moving pictures. After a while, you begin to take it for granted that pictures move, just like people from magical backgrounds take it for granted that trolls are ugly and stupid or that Lord Voldemort’s name should never be uttered aloud. It’s role in Harry’s imagination–his longing for it in the second book–demonstrates his longing for this magical world he’s newly been inducted to and helps reinforce the idea that Hogwarts is the only place he’s ever been at home.
Making pumpkin juice yourself is a cinch. It requires very few ingredients and very little work, making it the perfect fall drink.
- 2 cups canned pumpkin (or homemade puree if you prefer)
- 6 cups good apple cider
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or a dash of cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick), a few whole cloves, some nutmeg, allspice, and ginger (go easy on the last three, a little goes a long way)
- (optional) 1/2 cup apricot nectar* see note below
Place all ingredients on the stove or in a crockpot and simmer on low heat for at least an hour. The longer it heats, the more the the spices will meld with the pumpkin and cider flavors.
Strain concoction and drink either warm or chilled (if you let it sit, it will need stirring before serving).
* I tried several iterations of this recipe, and found the simplest to be the best. Other bloggers commented that they wanted a stronger pumpkin flavor, and I found that adding 1/2 cup apricot nectar was the way to achieve that. However, the more pumpkin heavy flavor did not find favor with any of my other testers, who preferred the more juice-like taste of the pumpkin and cider combo. It’s strange, but the apricot really does bring out the pumpkin flavor if that’s what you’re looking for. You could also add honey or brown sugar, if you want it sweeter, but I think the cider has enough sweetness on its own.
What’s your favorite feature of Hogwarts? Peeves? The singing suits of armor? the sorting hat? Let me know in the comments.