Pumpkin canning

Pumpkin canning

(Update: I didn’t grow any of my own pumpkins this year, but I still intend to purchase some nice organic ones from my favorite produce market in the beginning of October and go through this same process with them. I was really happy with the pumpkin puree that I made last year and can’t wait to have more of it this year!

It should also be noted that although I originally called this post “canning” pumpkins, I didn’t actually can them in the typical sense. It was my intention to make puree and pressure can it, so that I could store the jars in my pantry. What I discovered as I researched was that it is NOT safe to can pumpkin or winter squash puree, and that it can only be done when the squash is in chunks, and still only with a pressure canner, not a boiling-water bath. My new favorite option is to still make the puree, but rather than can it I put it in canning jars and store it in the freezer instead. It is still almost as convenient as having actual canned pumpkin, but far safer!)

Phew… I think I might be done canning for the year! (Unless, of course, I decide to take advantage of borrowing a pressure canner to do up some dry beans for convenience sake, and I think I might have heard my husband mention pears this morning… oh well 🙂

I started out with those pumpkins on the left:


One of the smaller pumpkins went bad before I got to it, so I was left with six, good sized pie pumpkins.

In the morning, I cut each one in half, seeded it, and baked the halves (cut side down) on cookie sheets, at 350 F for about an hour. I was shocked at how much water they released, for being a smaller variety of pumpkin! I left them for several hours to cool off, and started to work on them again just after lunch.


This was an idea I got from Kimi’s brilliant post on cooking pumpkins for puree. I’m not sure I would have known to do this otherwise, but it made such a huge difference! I must have spent over an hour, pureeing batches of pumpkin in my food processor, and then draining the water out.

I found the best way to drain the puree was to keep flipping the pumpkin over and over (but being careful not to bang the strainer on the bowl, because then the puree leaks out). I also rolled the pumpkin around and around in the strainer, and as more of the liquid drained out, it would sort of clump together in a tighter ball. It took a lot of effort, but I really think that it was worth it, to have puree that is thick and perfect for making breads, muffins, etc.


My original intention was to can the pumpkin using my MIL’s pressure canner. Unfortunately, I didn’t read ahead and discovered too late (after the pumpkin was already cooked) that you can’t use puree for canning, only cubes (for safety reasons). So, at the last minute, I decided to still use my jars, go ahead and make puree, and then freeze it instead.

I actually think this was far easier in the end. No messing around with the canner, and much more convenient than still having to puree cubes when I want to use a can of pumpkin.

So there you have it- the relatively painless route to delicious, spiced pumpkin bread and pies all winter long (or have you seen Kimi’s latest muffins? Mmmm…)

What do you do with pumpkins? Does anyone else like to make and preserve their own puree from fresh pumpkins?

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  1. Thanks for the reminder – I have a pumpkin sitting in the garage that I need to take care of.

    I make my puree the same way that you do. I have also found that it is helpful to line your colander with a double layer of cheesecloth. I originally did it because the holes in my colander were too big for the pumpkin puree, but I found that I was actually to bring the ends of the cloth together, lift the whole thing up and squeeze the water out.

  2. I froze some pumpkin last year but haven’t done it yet this year (although I have done some squash). Sometimes I find freezing simply easier for some things. Last year I stored a pumpkin in my basement for 7 months. They can last a long time. I checked on it every few days to make sure it had no spots starting. I heard they can store up to 9 months or even a year. I plan on freezing some of mine but also just storing some and checking on them.

  3. hey steph! great to hear you froze your pumpkin! i personally froze my puree….but did can our spiced pumpkin butter. also i do can cubed and pureed pumpkin because i do own a pressure canner;) have done so for years-as long as the rules are followed i dont see a threat. also, it is a low-acid food so anything like a waterbath doesnt heat it uphigher than boiling point like a pressure canner does so that the higher tep really does kill the adverse bacteria. but yay for yummy pumpkin things in winter!

  4. Your pumpkin looks really, really good. I have 4 pumpkins that need ‘doing’ yet. Any good pumpkin recipes you want to pass along? I have great success with zucchini muffins and loaves, but so far not with pumpkin.

  5. OMG, I never thought about canning pumkin before. And it looks easy enough that not only I can do it, but I think my kids would love to help as well. We can make it a family event 🙂

  6. I freeze pumpkin every fall…It’s great for pies, cookies etc. After baking and puree I line my colander with cheese cloth, place in larger bowl and let it drain overnight.

  7. I froze 12 cups of pumpkin puree this year and I didn’t drain off the water very well (still a lot of liquid). Is this going to be a problem when I want to use it? This was my first year doing this….and of course I did it before I read your article above.

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