How to Can Pumpkin

5 years ago

As far as I'm concerned, one of the greatest horrors in modern home preserving is the fact that pureed pumpkin in all its forms is not safe for canning at home.

Autumn, after all, is not autumn without pumpkin butter, pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, and even those tiny little pumpkin donuts we added to the seasonal roster last year; all of which require the use of pumpkin puree. The fact that you should not can pumpkin butter alone is, in and of itself, a tragedy.

And yet, the guidelines exist for good reason. Pumpkin puree, like pureed sweet potatoes or winter squash, is too thick to heat properly in home canning equipment—even the best of the best of consumer-style pressure canners—so there is increased risk of botulism developing in the center of the jars. And since botulism is odorless, tasteless, and colorless—in other words, virtually undetectable—it's not really something I'd recommend risking.

Luckily, there's an alternative. Pumpkin is safe for home canning in its cubed form, and canned cubes are easily pureed upon opening. So, if you're looking to put the taste of fall in your pantry, here's how:

  • 2 1/4 lbs pumpkin* per quart jar
  • boiling water

Prepare jars, lids, rings and pressure canner.

Cut pumpkin(s) in half, remove seeds. Cut flesh away from rind and cube into 1 inch pieces.

Submerge cubed pumpkin in a large pot of boiling water and boil for two minutes. The pumpkin cubes should be heated through, but not soft. Drain and discard liquid.

Pack cubes in pint or quart jars, leaving a generous one inch of head space. Ladle fresh boiling water into jars, releasing any air bubbles.

Apply lids to finger tip tight. Process at 10 lbs pressure; 55 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts.


Now, for the fine print:

* Small, pie pumpkins yield best results, but this recipe will work with any variety of pumpkin or winter squash.

** To use your canned pumpkin, simply drain and puree at the time of use. Once pureed, it will work just like store-bought canned pumpkin for pies, butters, soups, and other baked goods. Just keep in mind that your pumpkin is plain, not pre-spiced.

Until next month, Happy Canning!

:: :: ::

Diana Prichard authors Righteous Bacon and is the owner of the small farm Olive Hill.

Pumpkin Photo via Prima Civitas Foundation on Flickr

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