Canning Pumpkin

with Sharon Peterson

Canning Pumpkin

Canning pumpkin first in the pressure canner makes it safe to store and quick to use later in pumpkin butter, pies, muffins, or other pumpkin recipes.   

I get questions on how to can pumpkin puree, or pumpkin butter.  My best advice is to can it in cubes. Puree it when you want to use it in your recipes. Easy!  And more importantly, safe. 

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 heat will penetrate much better.  Cubed is safer.  

Pumpkin is a low acid food and MUST be processed in a pressure canner.  There is no way around those recomendations.  (except of course to ignore them.... which I don't suggest) 


A note on pureeing your pumpkin when you open the jar. 

  If you need a pumpkin puree then you will need to drain the pumpkin very well.  I've found even then it will be thinner than the usual commercially canned pumpkin.  It will not get thick like fresh 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.  

Gather your canning supplies


  • Pumpkin
  • Canning Salt - optional

Canning Pumpkin Procedure

The procedure for canning pumpkin is actually very straightforward.  Seed it, skin it, cube it up, place in jars. Process.  I'll give my opinion here on the best way to do this. Then give the research based canning directions. 

First step to canning pumpkin is seeding the pumpkin.  Your best bet is to chop off the top of your pumpkin removing the stem and top portion.  Then slice down the center to cut the pumpkin in half.  This gives you better access to the seeds and strings.  Then just use a large spoon to scoop them out.  Save them for roasting or replanting in the spring if you have heirloom pumpkins. 

Next you need to take off the pumpkin skin.  I tried several things.  A regular vegetable peeler was useless.  Rind is far too tough.  I tried using a knife to peel off the rind of each half.  This was awkward.  I had sharp knives slipping and I was destined to chop off a finger. I knew I had find a better way or I'll be here for HOURS! (not to mention ending up fingertipless)

Finally I found the best way was to slice my pumpkin in to 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. 

Tips from Facebook

Al suggests: There is only one thing I would suggest. For those who have bad wrists, I would use an electric knife for cutting the rind.

Michele adds:  I found if I put the pumpkin cut in half in the oven for 1 hour on 350 it softens them enough so I can peel them.

I have carpel tunnel & had to learn a new way to deal with heavy rind squashes...I do this with the huge pumpkins & add just enough water to fill the bottom of the pot & then put foil over the top so the steam helps soften them. 

They are then cooled a bit & I can cut them up & put in the jars adding more hot water to fill the canning jar, no extra cooking/blanching needed.

They will be a bit softer in the jars but don't turn to mush so this might help someone who has troubles with bad wrist.

Sharon:  I did try this too, but didn't care for the pumpkin being so soft to start out. But it is most certainly an option.  

When you are canning pumpkin you need to cut your pumpkin into cubes about 1 inch. (remember no pureeing!) Place in a large stock pot.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Simmer 2 minutes.  You don't need to cook thoroughly, just enough to warm the pumpkin up and place in your jars hot. 

Using a slotted spoon I then scooped out the pumpkin and placed in jars.  If you want salt, add one teaspoon per quart and 1/2 tsp per pint.  Then fill each jar with the cooking water leaving a 1 inch headspace. 

Using a plastic spatula or other small tool release any air bubbles.   There is a tool you can buy for this step but I find my orange peeler is perfect.

Wipe the rims of your jar clean so there are no food particles to interfere with the seal and place your canning lids.  Here I'm using traditional metal lids that I have left over and need to use up.  But I usually use and love my tattler lids. 

Place your jars in your preheated canner and process as directed below.  For more information on how to use your pressure canner click here

Processing instruction


pints for 55 minutes

quarts for 1 hour 30 minutes

Adjustments for Pressure Canner
Altitude in Feet Dial Gauge Canner Weighted Gauge Canner
0-1000 11 10
1001-2000 11 15
2001-4000 12 15
4001-6000 13 15
6001-8000 14 15
8000-10,000 15 15

From Sharon's inbox

Question:  Ok. So I read that you cannot can pureed pumpkin. And even if you chunk it up in cubes you have to pressure cook it not the boiling water bath. Is this true?

Yes it is true.  Pumpkin is low acid so it needs the pressure canner. Can it chunky, then puree it when you use it.

I have heard that it is not advisable to can puree such as soup or like pumpkin. Why the advice against it?  I have been doing it for some time.

Joanne,  the reason is that the heat may not penetrate fully to the center of the jar.  USDA has not tested and come up with appropriate times for anything pureed.  When I do pumpkins,  I simply can it in chunks and then puree it when I open the jar up. 

Canning pumpkin in cubes instead of puree gives you many more options on using it later for pies, muffins, and soups. It’s also the safest method! explains why and shows you how.

Canning Pumpkin source... National Center for Home Food Preservation.

› Canning Pumpkin

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The Legal Stuff

by Sharon Peterson, Copyright © 2009-2019

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Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You are encouraged to verify all canning and food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website. 

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