I don’t claim to have much of a green thumb…
But I can grow a mean patch of pumpkins.
Okay… Okay. Pumpkins are pretty easy to grow, so don’t be too impressed…But still… I’m going to take full advantage of my bragging rights.
This year I poked a handful of heirloom pumpkin seeds into my hugelkultur bed, just to see what would happen. (If you’re wondering “hugel-whaaaa??” then read this post). Last year, my maiden voyage as a hugelkultur gardener was a complete and total flop. But being the stubborn homesteader that I am, I decided to give it another try–after applying a generous amount old manure, of course. (Because manure fixes everything).
Apparently, the seeds loved the whole hugulkultur-thang, and they thrived. I ended up with around a dozen happy pumpkins from just a small corner of my garden.
I saved a couple of the littlest pumpkins to adorn my dining room table (because they are so cuuuuuuuute) and set to work preserving the rest. In years past, I’ve baked my pumpkins (using my finger-saving, no fuss method), blended them, and crammed the puree into gallon-sized freezer bags. But honestly? I was dreading the process this year…
I don’t like the whole freeze-the-pumpkin-in-a-baggie method because:
a) It’s messy to put in the pumpkin puree into the bag, and wastes a lot of pumpkin when you are trying to remove it.
b) It takes up valuable freezer space.
c) I am the WORST about remembering to thaw stuff before I need it, so having jars ready at a moment’s notice makes me super-duper happy. (This is the same reason I can my beef broth instead of freezing it...)
Therefore, you can imagine my homesteader-delight when I realize you can indeed can pumpkin. There are just a few rules you need to follow first:
The Rules of Canning Pumpkin
1) If you are going to can pumpkin, you must, must, must use a pressure canner--no exceptions. I know, pressure canning seems scarier than water bath canning, but it’s absolutely vital since pumpkin is a low-acid food. And if you follow my pressure canning tutorial, it’s easy peasy. (No explosions, either.)
2) It’s a bummer, but you cannot can pumpkin puree–you can only can pumpkin cubes (Holy wow… there’s a lot of “cans” in that sentence). According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, “We have no properly researched directions to recommend for canning mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash, or pumpkin butter.” So yeah, that’s one area where I don’t live on the edge. The same goes for canning refried beans, which is why I just can whole beans and then mash ’em after I open the jars.
So do you promise you’ll follow the rules? Okay, then I’ll share the recipe. 🙂
Canning Pumpkin the Easy Way
(this post contains affiliate links)
You will need:
- Pie pumpkins
- A pressure canner (where to buy)
- Jars – (get them from your local store, or get them online here)
- My pressure canning tutorial
First Objective: We need to cut the pumpkins into cubes. This is the “hardest” part of this whole process, mainly because you can’t use my quick tip for making pumpkin puree (because we need the pumpkin to remain raw and not get too soft). But never fear–it’s still do-able. Here’s how I did it:
Cut the stem out like you are getting ready to carve a jack-o-lantern.
Cut the pumpkin into four or five wedges.
Use a spoon to scrape out the pumpkin guts.
Peel the pumpkin. I was very thankful my vegetable peeler worked for this. However, if you are dealing with pumpkins with a super-hard rind, you might need a sharp knife to remove the peel instead. Watch those fingers!
Cut the peeled pumpkin into (roughly) 1-inch cubes.
Place the cubes in a large pot and cover with water.
Boil for 2 minutes, then place the pumpkin cubes into hot jars. (Avoid smashing down the cubes as much as possible!)
Cover the pumpkin cubes with the leftover hot cooking liquid, leaving 1-inch of headspace.
Add lids and rings and place into your pressure canner. Process quart jars for 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Process pint jars for 55 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.
(Need more details about pressure canning? I’ve got ya covered!)
When you are ready to make pumpkin puree, simply open a jar, strain out the liquid, and mash! I found one jar of drained, mashed pumpkin gave me around 2-3 cups of puree.
I see a lot of pumpkin pies in my future…
- The purpose behind boiling the pumpkin cubes for two minutes is to merely heat the cubes, not entirely cook them.
- Be really careful that you aren’t accidentally smashing the cubes too much as you fill your jars. (A little squishing is ok, we just don’t want the entire jar to end up being puree)
- Avoid using carving pumpkins–the flavor and texture just aren’t the same as a good, old-fashioned pie pumpkin.
- I’ve been growing these Winter Luxury Heirloom Pie Pumpkins for several years now. They are my absolute favorite!
- Need some fabulous pumpkin pie spice? Make it yourself!
- Or, use your freshly canned puree for the ultimate pumpkin pie smoothie or honey maple pumpkin bread.