Canning Pumpkin

I’ve done a lot of canning in my day. Well actually in the past few years. I only started canning about 5 years ago but I have been hooked ever since. Now we make it a big family affair and it’s one of our favorite things in the summer. We make so much more of our food and it’s been an incredible experience. However, in all of that time, one of the biggest controversies is about canning pumpkin. There are so many different methods! Each person claims that theirs is the best way to do it and I’ve now tried several of those methods. What follows is what I settled on for what I believe is the easiest and most efficient method for canning pumpkin. 

Pureed Pumpkin

You cannot can pureed pumpkin. Now listen, I loved to be the rebel canner. There are things I do, like my pickled okra, that does not follow the USDA/FDA guidelines. Heck, there are just little tricks along the way that they probably wouldn’t agree with. However, this is the one rule that I actually do listen to. The reasoning is that the puree can’t get hot enough in the canning process to kill all of the bacteria.

Contrary to what people believe, you don’t process the jars to make sure they seel. You process them long enough to make sure that any bacteria in there is cooked out of them. If something doesn’t get hot enough, long enough that can leave bacteria in the jar and also create more. Yes, even if your jar seals! The heat that they can do in the tin cans can be much greater than a jar and that is why they can do it on a commercial scale. If you want puree, you are better off freezing the pumpkin.

Type of Pumpkin

The best type to can is the sugar pie pumpkins, they are the sweetest and designed to go into pumpkin pie. However, you can use other pumpkins too. I like to grow the “fancy” pumpkins as decorations but they double as pumpkins I can preserve too. Cinderella pumpkins, jarrahdale, casper, and long island cheese to name a few. They all tend to lean on the sweeter side of the pumpkin varieties which makes them perfect for canning. You could can a jack-o-lantern but I think you’d be disappointed because it would be more bland than what you want.

Directions for Canning Pumpkin

First, clean your pumpkin and remove the stem. I just break the stem off to get it out of the way. 

Using a potato peeler, peel the skin off your pumpkin.

Pumpkin peeled and being cut in half.
Pumpkin peeled and being cut in half.

Cut pumpkin in half. 

Remove the “guts” out of the pumpkin (the seeds and mushy parts). 

Dice up the pumpkin and put it in sterilized jars.

Pumpkin all ready for canning.
Pumpkin all ready for canning.

Fill the jars with warm water. 

Add lids and rings to the jar.

Pressure can for 75 minutes at 15lbs pressure. (You will need to adjust this based on your altitude). 

Allow the canner to come to normalized pressure and then remove the jars. I usually let mine sit there for at least 2 hours before removing the lid and taking the jars out. If you take the lid off too soon it will siphon the water out of your jars. While they are still useable, it’s more comforting to me to have the water in the jars. Plus, you run the risk of the water getting in between the lid and the jar and causing it to not seal.

To use the canned pumpkin, drain it and turn it into puree. Mix into the recipe as you would the stuff from the store. 

In Summary: Canning Pumpkin

Seriously, this is the easiest method. Last year we tried to bake the pumpkins first. This works if you just want to be able to peel off the pumpkin skin really easily. However, it takes more time because you have to wait for the pumpkin to cool down after it comes out of the oven. I guess you could get some of those heat resistant gloves too but it still takes more time to bake them. The other version is to parboil them before you put them in the jars. I’m honestly not sure of the purpose except to make the pumpkin more hot when it is canned and I don’t think that’s necessary. Peel it, jar it, and put it under pressure.

What is your favorite thing to do with pumpkin? 

I’m a big pumpkin pie fan but I also really love pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins too.

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