Living Homegrown

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LH 27: Why It’s Unsafe to Can Pumpkin Puree

Welcome to Episode #27 of the Living Homegrown Podcast!

Listener Debbie has noticed there are many heated debates in online forums about whether or not it’s safe to can pumpkin puree or pumpkin butter.

She asked me to give my take on the subject.

So I recorded a podcast episode to answer this question – but I think I approach this topic a little differently than most.

I not only cover the USDA recommendations but the big WHY behind those recommendations from a scientific AND a gardener’s perspective.

In This Episode I Cover:

  • The USDA canning recommendations for pumpkin
  • The science behind those recommendations
  • The backstory on why those recommendations have changed over the years
  • How to think about this issue from a gardener’s perspective
  • How a pumpkin isn’t just a pumpkin – 3 key characteristics that vary
  • Why commercial companies are able to can pumpkin puree / butter safely
  • How adding lemon juice doesn’t necessarily make it safe
  • An easiery way to safely preserve pumpkin puree / butter at home

Resources & Links Mentioned:

Understanding How Open Pollination Works – The PBS episode of Growing A Greener World TV (#303)

Why You Should NOT Can Pumpkin Pureeblog post


Freezing Tips:

Choose dual purpose jars that are made for both canning and freezing. It will say so on the box and/or will have “freeze line”  (or similar wording) stamped on jar.  Do not use old mayo or spaghetti sauce jars. They are not tempered for freezing.

The “headspace” is the air space from the food to the top rim of the jar. It allows for the expansion of the food during the freezing process. Straight-sided jars should be your first choice because they are less likely to crack due to pressure on the neck of the jar when the food expands. 

Headspace recommendations when freezing pumpkin puree:

1/2 pint to pint sized jar:  Leave a 1/2-inch headspace

Quart – Leave a 1-inch headspace

How to Freeze Produce in Canning Jars This video focuses on how to freeze garden produce, but the jar recommendations still apply. 



Click here for the full transcript for Episode #27


About This Podcast Series:

Check out podcast Episode 00 to get:

  • The whole scoop on what this podcast series is all about
  • My background, experience & training
  • What to expect going forward

It’s like an audio “about” page for the podcast.


Thank You So Much For Listening!

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Have a Question You Need Answered?

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.