Store-bought pumpkin yuck!!! Fresh is best and pumpkin is very easy to preserve and put away for all of those pumpkin pies you plan on baking at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Here are step-by-step directions for Preserving Pumpkin.
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How to Can and Preserve Pumpkin
The procedure for canning pumpkin is actually very straightforward. Remove the seeds, remove the skin, cube it up, and place the cubes in jars. Honestly, the cutting up and prep is the hardest part.
How to Peel a Pumpkin
The first step is removing the seeds from the pumpkin. Your best bet is to chop off the top of your pumpkin, removing the stem and top portion. Slice down the center to cut the pumpkin in half. This gives you better access to the seeds and strings. You are not carving this for your step so just open it up and get to the seeds. Then use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds. Save them for roasting or replanting in the spring.
Next, you need to peel the pumpkin. This is where it gets tricky. I tried several things. A regular vegetable peeler was useless, as the rind is far too tough. I tried using a knife to peel the rind of each half. This was awkward and dangerous.
Finally, I found the best way was to slice my pumpkin into strips.
Then use a knife to slice off the rind. This was much more manageable. The pumpkin did not roll around on me. I was able to slice down into my butcher block and my fingers were safe!
I was still there quite a while slicing and peeling pumpkin, but it worked.
Fill your canning jars
Next you need to cut your pumpkin into about 1-inch cubes. (Remember, no pureeing!)
Place in a large stock pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. You don’t need to cook thoroughly, just 2 minutes. This will warm the pumpkin up. Pumpkin must be a hot pack. Do not put raw cubes in your jar. Next fill your hot jars leaving a 1 inch headspace.
Using a slotted spoon, I scooped out the pumpkin and placed in jars. If you want salt, add 1 teaspoon per quart or 1/2 tsp per pint. Then fill each jar with the cooking water, leaving 1-inch headspace.
Using a plastic spatula or other small tool, release any air bubbles.
Wipe the rims of your jar clean so there are no food particles to interfere with the seal. Place your canning lids.
Place your jars in your preheated pressure canner and process as directed below.
Processing Instructions for Canning Pumpkin
Pints – 55 minutes.
Quarts – 1 hour 30 minutes.
Be sure and use the proper pressure for your altitude.
Altitude Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude – Weighted Gauge
0-1,000 ft – 10 pounds
1,001-10,000 ft -15 pounds
Altitude – Dial Gauge – Weighted Gauge
0-2,000 ft – 11 pounds
2,001-4,000 ft – 12 pounds
4,001-6,000 ft – 13 pounds
6,001-8,000 ft – 14 pounds
8,001-10,000 ft – 15 pounds
Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you can pumpkin puree?
When you are canning pumpkin or any other winter squash you must can it in cubes. You should not puree it, then try to preserve it in jars. The concern with pureeing it is that the density of the puree will be thick. The heat achieved in the pressure canner must reach all the way to the center of your jars. If your pumpkin is cubed, the heat will penetrate much better. Cubed is safer and is the only way this process has been tested. I recommend that you do NOT follow online instructions you may find for how to can pumpkin puree.
Pureeing Pumpkin when You Open the Jar.
If you need a pumpkin puree, mash it up when you open the jar. You will need to drain the pumpkin very well. I’ve found even then it will be thinner than commercially canned pumpkin. If you are using it for a soup base, you can just puree it with the liquid from your jar. It all depends on what you are making. It will not get thick like fresh pumpkin, but it works.
Learn How to Make Pumpkin Puree in Your Instant Pot HERE.
Should You Can Pumpkin in a Water Bath Canner?
Pumpkin is a low-acid food, so it MUST be processed in a pressure canner. There is no way around those recommendations.
Can I use my fall decoration pumpkin for canning?
Yes, you can as long as you have not carved them and left them on your step for a few weeks. If these are your carved pumpkins do not preserve them. (they make great chicken or goat treats!) These pumpkins may not have as sweet a flavor as say a small pie pumpkin, but they work just great. I’ve canned them before. Just be sure you are using a fresh pumpkin.
Canning Pumpkin Source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation