Canning Pumpkin:
How to Do It

Ahh...canning pumpkin! Doesn't it remind you of fall? When I think of pumpkin, it brings to mind crisp fall leaves, cozy spices (like cinnamon and nutmeg), and best of all, pumpkin breads and muffins. Warm muffins..with chocolate chips in them.

Pumpkins are nice and yummy and autumn-ish; but how do you actually go about canning them?

canning pumpkin

It's a Messy Project

Pumpkins, as you probably know, are full of ooey gooey pulp...complete with seeds. It is a true mess to can the stuff! If you've ever carved a pumpkin before, or made a jack-o-lantern out of one, than I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

But once you've tried your first bite of pumpkin butter or pumpkin pie filling, you'll forget all that hard work.

Until it's time to start canning pumpkin again next year, that is. :-)

How much to buy?

About 16 lbs of raw pumpkin will yield 7 quarts; and 10 pounds of pumpkin will yield 9 pints.

Prepare the pumpkins for canning

Once you have all the pumpkins you need for this project, it's time for some old-fashioned fun. Ready to get messy?

1. First, slice your pumpkin in half, from top to bottom. A serrated knife will make this step much easier. Pumpkins are very tough, so we usually have my brother or dad do it - laugh if you want, but it's a tough job!

canning pumpkin

2. Place your pumpkin halves on a cutting board and start scooping. You want to get all of the pulp out of the pumpkin, since you are going to can the pumpkin "meat", not the pulp.

You can use an ice cream scooper or a great big spoon for this part; but make sure you save the seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are to die for.

3. Now that your pumpkins are all scooped out, cut them into quarter sections. You may need to cut them smaller than this, depending on the size of pumpkin you're working with.Place the pumpkin sections into a large soup pot filled with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the pumpkins are soft. This can take anywhere from 30 - 40 minutes.

4. When your pumpkins are soft, remove them from the pan. At this point, they are so soft that the skin will just peel right off by hand, which is what you need to do.

5. Dice your pumpkin into 1 inch cubes. DO NOT MASH. The USDA states that canning mashed pumpkin is not safe; however, the diced version is.


6. Fill your canning jars with your diced pumpkin and fill with water. Or, if you saved your water from step #3 when you boiled your pumpkins....definitely use that! Leave about 1 inch headspace.

7. Wipe the rims of your jars. And yes, if you're wondering, this is a very important step! Often, food particles, grease, or sticky stuff from the food you're canning will get on the rims of your jars. Then, later, when you're jars are in the canner, the lid may not seal properly because of what's between the lid and the rim. I've had this happen several times.

Use a clean, damp rag or paper towel for this. Wipe it dry, and then put on lids and rims. The rims should be finger tight - not too tight, though.

8. Place your jars in your pressure canner. Of course, your pressure canner needs to already be full of boiling water; but check with your owner's manual to find out just how full. Every canner will be different.

Once all your jars are in, put on the lid and process for 90 minutes; adjusting the time and pressure for your specific altitude.

canning pumpkin 9. Once your jars have finished processing, remove them and place them on a cooling rack or a tea towel and don't disturb them for 24 hours. They need time to properly seal and settle!

As they are cooling, you will hear each jar "pop" individually. This usually happens within 5 minutes to 1 hour of removing them from the canner. When you hear this, you will know they have sealed.

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