I love fall! I love the leaves changing, the cooler weather, and pumpkins! I love looking at pumpkin displays along the road and at the farmers market. Seeing the different ways they grow and the uniqueness of them all is so neat!
I’m sitting here on a snowy day the week before Thanksgiving. While it is still indeed fall, it doesn’t exactly feel or look like it!
I have a friend who is the queen of growing neck pumpkins. Every year, she has oodles of big pumpkins that are, in my opinion, the best for baking! She is kind enough to give me one each fall. This year’s pumpkin weighed 15 pounds! And for whatever reason, the neck never curled.
A few years back, after we got our pressure canner, my friend and I were discussing canning pumpkin at home. I checked the recipe book that came with the canner, and lo and behold, there it was! Canned squash and pumpkin!
So I decided to give it a try. And now it has become something I look forward to every year!
Canning pumpkin is actually quite simple, it just takes time.
The first thing that I do is cut the pumpkin into big chunks and peel it.
Once I got to the end of the pumpkin, I had to remove the seeds and pulp. I love that the only place there are seeds in a neck pumpkin is at the very end. It makes chopping everything up much easier! And, if you like roasted pumpkin seeds, you may want to save them!
Once the pumpkin is cut into more manageable hunks, I chopped it all up into 1 inch cubes. My hands were so sticky by the time I was done with this! It was like I had Elmer’s glue all over my fingers and needed to peel it off. (Which was actually fun to do when I was a kid!)
The only thing that needs to go into the jars besides pumpkin is boiling water. So while I put water on the stove to boil, I washed up the lids and jars. I heated the jars in the oven since I’d be pouring boiling water into them.
The pressure canning directions say to boil the pumpkin for 2 minutes before placing in jars. I’ll be honest. I’ve never done that. The pumpkin cooks in the jars for nearly an hour. To me, two minutes in boiling water isn’t going to make a difference. Maybe it makes the jars easier to pack. I do not know. If you have any insight, I’d love your input!
Either way, I placed the pumpkin in pint jars and then filled the jars with boiling water, covering the pumpkin but leaving 1 inch headspace. I use pint jars because they contain about a cup of pumpkin, which is what I use for my pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Using a pressure canner is a little different from using a water bath canner. I was a little intimidated the first time I used it on my own, but now it’s old hat. The directions that came with the pressure canner are very clear and easy to follow.
After the canner heats up and pressure builds, processing time for pints is 55 minutes. The hardest part for me is keeping the pressure steady and not letting it go too high. I just make sure I am doing something within eyeshot of the stove so that I can check the pressure gauge every few minutes.
Once the processing time is complete, the canner needs to cool. Until the whole canning process is said and done, it takes between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.
The pumpkin doesn’t look a whole lot different when it comes out than when it went in. The water has a little orange tint to it, but the cubes are still in tact. However, they are actually very soft. They don’t need to be blended at all before use. When I pour the pumpkin into a strainer, it turns into more of a purée pretty much right away.
I think the consistency of home canned pumpkin versus store-bought pumpkin is a little different, but not tons. I believe the pumpkin I can has a little more water content and seems a little lighter. The stuff from a can is sort of heavy and thick. So, if you want to use home canned pumpkin for your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, I’d do a trial run first, just to see how the different pumpkin affects the outcome. And really, who doesn’t want an extra pumpkin pie lying around?
That’s really all there is to it. It takes some prep and processing time, but other than that, canning pumpkin is a pretty simple process! Enjoy your fall pumpkin spice goodies!