This last week has been unseasonably warm in California, but you’d never know it at my neighborhood Trader Joe’s! The place is cozied up for fall with harvest-themed displays, cold weather produce, and orange packaging galore. Heat wave aside, we are officially in the midst of Pumpkin Spice Season.
Here are ten of the best buys from the over three dozen pumpkin and pumpkin-spiced products on offer at TJ’s right now.
1. Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea, 20 sachets (1.4 ounces), $3.99
When I polled a TJ’s employee about her favorite pumpkin options among the beverage offerings, she pointed me to the rooibos tea. Whoever came up with this blend used a judicious hand with the spices — it’s got a nice balance between rooibos and spice, with cinnamon coming through the strongest. The fancy, silky tea bags are nice for company, too.
2. Organic Canned Pumpkin, 15 ounces, $1.99
Smoother and thicker than most supermarket brands, this is my go-to canned pumpkin for pies, puddings, and scones. It also makes a great base for straight-from-the-pantry pumpkin soup, combined with diced, sautéed shallots and a quart of your broth of choice.
3. Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix, 21.2 ounces, $2.99
I whisked these up in minutes on a busy weekday morning, which is not something I can say about my usual go-to overnight waffle recipe. The batter is easy to put together, and the waffles cook very quickly, too — on its "classic" setting, my Breville unit took a little under four minutes to get them golden brown. A box of mix makes sixteen waffles, plenty for a brunch crowd. As for the taste? They’re not too sweet, and the balance of spice is nice — just make sure you don’t overcook them, as the spices will take on a burned flavor quickly if they get too browned.
4. Pumpkin Soup, 21.2 ounces, $1.79
These cartons are smaller than the other TJ’s soup, holding two servings each. The soup has a neutral, vegetal pumpkin flavor, without too much spice or salt. It’s nice served straight out of the box or jazzed up — add some red curry paste for a Thai twist.
5. Harvest Blend Salad Kit, 14 ounces, $3.99
This one’s all about convenience — if you’re too busy to throw together a dinner salad during the week, a salad kit will help you get dinner on the table fast. This one leans toward sweet, but doesn’t dip into cloying territory at all. The usual spring mix is supplemented with leaves of baby kale, and toppings include pumpkin cornbread croutons (also available by the box), pumpkin seeds, a packet of raisins and other dried fruits, and a just-snappy-enough (you guessed it, pumpkin) vinaigrette.
6. Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, 8 ounces, $2.99
These are great for snacking, sprinkling on yogurt, and as a stand-in for candied pecans in salads. I added a handful to my morning bowl of muesli and loved the sweet, cinnamon-y crunch.
7. Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps, 5.3 ounces, $3.99
A new contender for my favorite addition to a fall cheese plate. These would be awesome under a sliver of Camembert or Gorgonzola Dolce.
8. ACE Pumpkin Hard Cider, 22 ounces, $2.99
The shelves are heavy with pumpkin ales this time of year, but pumpkin cider is an unusual find. A great gluten-free option, it has a floral, lightly pumpkin-y flavor and skews sweet. Serve it in place of a dessert wine.
9. Pumpkin Biscotti, 8 ounces, $3.99
A TJ’s employee was really excited about these, and offered to open a box to sample right in the store. They’re full of pumpkin spice flavor, and sweeter than some biscotti but not overly so. Tender enough to eat without dunking in coffee, and kid-friendly too — a toddler in the next aisle was happily munching one of them as I continued with my shopping expedition.
10. Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream, six 2-ounce mochi balls, $3.49
My husband and I are big mochi fans, and these didn’t disappoint. The flavor is like creamy eggnog with a hint of squashy pumpkin on the finish.
What’re your favorites from the panoply of pumpkin products in this year’s line-up? Let us know!