How to Can Pumpkins

can pumpkins

Pumpkin must be cubed instead of pureed for safe canning.

Preparing pumpkin for use in soups or pies is surprisingly easy. Forty-five minutes of roasting is all it takes to produce a fresh puree that truly puts the “homemade” in homemade seasonal baked goods. Sadly, pumpkin season will end all too soon. The good news is, like so many backyard crops, pumpkin can be canned for use all year long.

At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Roast, puree, can.

Not so fast.

Twenty-five years ago that would have been fine. It’s not that pumpkins have changed, but the rules have. The National Center for Home Food Preservation, a division of the USDA and arbiter of all things preserved, determined that pumpkin puree is too dense for home canning. Massive commercial canning equipment can handle the task, but home equipment just can’t bring the center of that dense puree to the 240 degrees necessary to ensure that botulism won’t develop.

Pumpkin puree can be preserved safely and easily by freezing, but for those looking to can pumpkin for shelf-stable storage, it takes a little more effort.

Although puree is too thick for home canning, pumpkin can be cubed and packed in water to be safely canned using a pressure canner. Cubing pumpkin for canning is not difficult, but it packs less efficiently than pureed, is less convenient to use and cannot be processed by water bath (which does not reach the requisite 240 degrees).

For large harvests, limited freezer space may make storing pureed pumpkin impractical. It’s also a lot easier to share the bounty by passing along quart-sized jars of goodness without lugging around an ice chest. If shelf-stored pumpkin proves to be a more practical solution, follow the steps below for canning the harvest this year while pumpkins are readily available.

How to Can Pumpkin

  • Cut pumpkin in half from top to bottom.
  • Scrape out seeds and pulp, leaving flesh clean.
  • Slice into 1” wide wedges; peel and cut into 1” cubes.
  • Boil for 2 minutes and transfer cubes into sterilized quart or pint jars, leaving 1” head space.
  • Pour water from pot over cubes to cover.
  • Cap with lids and bands.
  • Process in weighted-gauge pressure cooker at 10 psi (90 minutes for quart jars or 55 minutes for pint jars).
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