Using and/or preserving fresh pumpkin

Here is how I make my mashed or pureed pumpkin, which I use in recipes calling for canned pumpkin!


1. Rinse your pumpkin with tap water to remove any dirt. (Our garden pumpkins like to get dirty! ;D)

2. Using a large cutting board and a large knife, cut your pumpkin in half. You may need to try different knives to see which works best, if you haven't cut raw pumpkin before. I prefer to use a thin serrated knife.

3.  Scoop out the pumpkin seeds.* Cut your pumpkin unto fourths or eighths, depending on how large your pumpkin was.

4. Put pumpkin into a large pot and add water. I usually have my pumpkin almost covered with water.

5. Place lid on pan and bring it to a boil. Cook until pumpkin is soft. Remove from heat and pour pumpkin into a large strainer, or simply drain the water from the pan.

6. When pumpkin has cooled slightly, use your fingers or a utensil (I use a butter knife) to separate the pumpkin from the peel. Discard the peel and put the pumpkin into a large bowl.

7. When pumpkin is all peeled, you can either mash with a potato masher (easy) or blend in a food processer. Or, just use as-is, and stir your cake or bread (or whatever you're making) well.

Cooked mashed pumpkin can be frozen for later use.

The suggested (safest) method of canning pumpkin is to do the following:

1. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Slice into inch-thick slices and peel. Chop into one-inch cubes.

2. Place diced pumpkin in a pan wth a small amount of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.

3. Pack hot pumpkin into clean canning jars, adding liquid to fill in the cracks, up to 3/4-inch from the top of the jar. Place canning lids on and process in pressure canner for 55-minutes (pints) or 90 minutes (quarts).

However, I don't have a pressure canner. And my mom always just did it in a boiling water bath. I process my pumpkin in a boiling water bath for 3 hours (hot-packed). Experts now say that that method isn't safe, so I don't feel good about recommending it, although I will continue to do mine that way, unless I someday get a pressure canner or a chest freezer! ;)

*You can eat these seeds. Just wash them and lay on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and bake at 300 degrees until crisp!


Thanks for this...we will be trying it today. I will let you know how it goes!

Wal-mart's small can of pumpkin cost me $1.09. I had a very, very hard time putting that into my cart! For only $2.50 I could have had who knows how many cans of pumpkin!

So healthy, and so cheap!

Shorty, let us know how it goes! My least favorite thing is trying to cut through the pumpkin. It's like cutting a giant carrot! :)

BessieJoy, you're right, canning pumpkin is pretty inexpensive... and I usually manage to get some pumpkins for free somehow, which I can use. :) It does take some time to can, but I'd rather spend the time doing it than for us to have to try to earn more money to afford more pre-processed things! :)

Just another idea...if you don't want to mess with boiling and draining the pumpkin I always cook pumpkin simply by cutting it in half, scraping out the seeds and then placing the halves face down on a baking tray with some water in it to prevent sticking. Then I let it bake in the oven until it's soft.

I have read, not tried this, only read, that you can pierce a whole pumpkin a few times (kind of like you do a baked potato in the microwave) and put the whole thing in the oven and bake for a couple of hours at 350. Then you can cut it easier and scoop out the insides (seeds etc). Then the good part is easy to separate from the peel and already cooked. I may try this, I'm on my way to the store and may pick up a pumpkin, depending on the prices!

Thanks for the additional ideas, everyone! I have baked butternut squash before, but forgot about that method! Unless you have a lot of pumpkin to do (and need to use, say, a big pot!) baking it would probably be easier! :)

I also wanted to mention that I use winter squash (like Butternut Squash) in place of pumpkin sometimes. In fact, the last time I canned pumpkin, I had a couple Butternut Squashes mixed in! It tastes pretty much the same :D.

Yummy!! Not only do you get good-for-you homemade pumpkin puree, but you get the seeds, too, and can toast them up!! Oh boy they are good!!

Mrs. U

Those are a nice perk, aren't they, Mrs. U? :) And although I don't know the nutrition content of pumpkin seeds, I imagine they must be quite good for you. :D

I bake pumpkin too, but I freeze mine rather than can it. Mom always boiled it, but then I heard about baking it and I decided that would be easier. :)

I've never done pumpkin, but I do squash a lot. To get them cut in half, I use a long knife and then bang on the end of the knife with my meat tenderizer. That seems to be the only way I can possibly get them open. LOL!

LeAnne, I plan to try baking mine the next time I need to cook some!!

Ruth, you sound like a very determined cook when it comes to pumpkins! ;)

I want to can our pumpkin from Halloween, my husband just takes a knife and gets all the skin off, then I put the chuncks in a big baking pan with some water and cook it till it is soft. I have no room in my freezer and want to can the rest, hot water bath or pressure cooker. I just want to know if you need to add any salt or some kind of preservative to keep it from spoiling? Thanks, Ruth in Oregon

Thank you I have the recipe.
One more question
Do you think when I perpare my pumkin for canning that I would be able to put the ingredients in it for pumkin pie?
Or shoulld I just can the pumkin as is?

I guess I might have filled some of the jars to much and pumpkin juice was leaking out,I opened them and wiped them off.It has only been 24 hours since I canned the pumpkin.Will it be alright to put back on the shelve?

Any time you open a jar of something you canned, it MUST be put in the refrigerator and used up soon. If you mean that you just took off the rings when you wiped them off, you might be okay as long as you still have a very tight seal. However, if they are 'leaking out' as you say, it's highly likely that the seal is not good. I recommend the book "Putting Food By" which is a very good book on the hows & whys & safety of food preservation. --Cheryl

I have three very nice brown pumkins that have a smooth peel. I am cooking it to loosen the peel and then plan to put the chunks in the blender to smooth it out and make butter, much like Apple Butter. I have a pressure canner, so I feel safe in preping that way. Any suggestions on seasonings???

i made pumpkin butter last year and i use pumpkin pie spice every one loved it .

Here is a good site that explains why: --Cheryl

I have canned pumpkin the past several years and have had no problem. I usually puree the pumpkin and then place it back into a pan and simmer on the stovetop for about an hour, stirring frequently. (Add a splash of lemon juice to keep from browning and it adds little aciditiy to puree). I then pack hot jars (quart) and process in pressure canner for 90 minutes. I have only had one jar go bad on me in the few years that I have been doing it this way. And I make it a rule of thumb that I use the canned pumpkin within 12 months. If any discoloration is observed, I usually toss the pumpkin to be on safe side. Also, I never use the canned pumpkin without first tasting it to make sure there is no spoilage occurring. I can usually yield 4-6 quarts from about 3-4 pumpkins (depending on amount of flesh is in each one).

I have also made pumpkin butter. I use the same spices for my pumpkin butter as I do for my apple butter (I cut back on cinnamon a little). And instead of using white sugar, I use brown sugar or honey instead to sweeten it.

Of course, just because I preserve my pumpkin this way is by no means the "best" way or the "recommnended" way. Obviously preserve your pumpkin/winter squashes in the manner in which you are most comfortable with.

Enjoy and happy canning!!!

Can spices be added to pumpkin when it is put up in chunks? I do my apples and peaches this way and after they sit in the mix they are so good.

This is my first time boiling pumpkins for mashing. I usually make the in the oven. The water is so pretty and orange. Is there anything I can do with that water? There is bound to be some nutrients in it. :)

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