Canning pumpkin 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, it’s safe too.
This page includes:
- How to Can Pumpkin: with extended explanations and tips.
- How to peel your pumpkin (without chopping off your fingers).
- Pinnable Recipe Card
Tips and FAQ
How to Can Pumpkin
- pressure canner
- canning jars
- canning seals and rings
- jar lifter
- canning funnel
- large pot or blancher
- large spoons
- sharp knife
- towels and dish cloths
- canning salt – optional
The procedure for canning pumpkin is actually very straightforward. Seed it, skin it, cube it up, and place the cubes in jars. Honestly, the cutting up and prep is the hardest part. Watch those fingers and sharp knives? Pumpkins tend to roll.
How to Peel a Pumpkin (without chopping off your fingers!)
The first step is seeding 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 if you have heirloom pumpkins.
Next, you need topeel 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. I had sharp knives slipping, and I was destined to chop off a finger. I knew I had to find a better way or I’d be there for HOURS (not to mention ending up fingertipless)!
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.
A few other peeling tips from some readers.
Peeling pumpkin tips from readers.
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 carpal 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’s reply: I did try this too, but I didn’t care for the pumpkin being so soft to start out. But it is most certainly an option.
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. There is a tool you can buy for this step, but I find my orange peeler works perfectly.
Wipe the rims of your jar clean so there are no food particles to interfere with the seal. Place your canning lids. Here I was using traditional metal lids that I needed to use up.
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 Instructions for Canning Pumpkin
- Pints – 55 minutes.
- Quarts – 1 hour 30 minutes.
Be sure and use the proper pressure for your altitude. Check the chart below.
Pinnable Recipe Card
Canning Pumpkin & Winter Squash
- Canning salt optional
- Start by preparing your jars and getting water in the canner heating. You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed. If you are new to using a pressure canner, see this article for full pressure canning instructions. This includes more detailed information and step-by-step instructions on how a pressure canner works.
Hot pack only
- Seed and peel pumpkin, then cut into 1” cubes.
- Place cubes in large stockpot, add water and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
- Fill jar with pumpkin cubes.
- Add salt (1/2 tsp. per pint or 1 tsp. per quart) if desired.
- Fill jar with cooking water, leaving 1”headspace.
- Remove bubbles, wipe the rim clean, and place on your seal and ring.Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars.
- Process in a pressure canner according to the directions below.
Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Tips and Frequently Asked Questions.
Canning Winter Squash?
Winter squash is canned the same as pumpkin, so you’re also in the right place if you’re learning how to can winter squash!
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 instruction 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.
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. (Except, of course, to ignore them…which I don’t suggest.) I do not teach how to can pumpkin in a water bath.
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
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Page last updated: 7/9/2021
A practical note: if you have pureed your pumpkin immediately after cooking/steaming it, it will be…hot. Heated through, the puree will be perfectly safe to can, store, and eat later. Why is the obvious so difficult to see?
Yes, hot pumpkin puree will be hot, but the texture/denseness will be completely different than hot pumpkin cubes. Remember it is not just the heat, it is the penetration to the center of the jars. The denseness or texture of the food will make a difference. Pureed pumpkin has not been tested.
I had an idea to use my old fashioned french fry cutter to cut the cubes. It’s only half inch cubes. Is that too small for safe canning?
I believe the pumpkin pieces would be too small and might get overcooked so I would not recommend it. It’s a great idea though for beets! I use my bosch mixer french fry attachment when I’m cutting beets for pickling. It works for Canning Beets as well since the recomendations are for smaller pieces.