Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shortage of canned pumpkin?

I've been hearing this for the last few years. Is there really a shortage of canned pumpkin?

That question was brought about by a tip in the Dollar Stretcher Tips, a weekly newsletter from Dollar Stretcher. (If you don't subscribe, you're missing some cool ideas - go here: http://www.stretcher.com/subscribe/subscribeIF.cfm and scroll down to find it.)

Anyway, the woman who wrote in said that since there was a shortage of canned pumpkin, she had been making "pumpkin" muffins using sweet potatoes because they're cheaper. (Somewhere; not here).

My question is: Since whole, fresh pumpkins are available anywhere in the fall of the year and usually at a cheap price, why would anyone buy canned pumpkin? It's easy to cook and easy to freeze and one pumpkin will yield many, many more cups of pumpkin than a can for about the same price. Besides that, it tastes better and you can use your Halloween pumpkin. Why throw it away, then go and buy pumpkin??

27 comments:

  1. I believe it's because the type of pumpkin that is used for canning is much sweeter and supposedly tastes much better than the 'jack-o-lantern' variety. It would be like using a sugar beet in place of a garden variety red beet. It's just not the same thing.

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  2. It's true that they grow pumpkins especially for pies, but most pumpkins sold for jack o'lanterns are good for pies, too. That's all I have used for years and everyone rants about my pumpkin pies. I wonder how much of that is marketing? Anyway, you can buy the little "sugar" or "pie" pumpkins around the same time of year for a lot less than you can buy a couple of cans of pumpkin.

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  3. I'm with you Pat. I use Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) for my pumpkin recipes. It's sweet and very yummy! Everybody loves them. I like to cook from scratch. Everything seems to taste so much better! Plus, I like to know what is in the food my family and friends eat.

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  4. I don't think I've ever tasted kabocha, Lisa, but any fresh pumpkin tastes better than commercially canned.

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  5. I've frozen my jack o'lantern pumpkins for a couple of years now, and they taste fine. The only thing I have done unsuccessfully was to not cook the pumpkin long enough before I pureed it. It had too much of a "squash" flavor, but I was able to doctor up the spices in the pie recipe so it turned out okay.
    If you are in a pinch, a butternut squash tastes very similar to pumpkin. In fact, I've made several butternut squash pies that no one suspected was anything other than pumpkin.

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  6. That's good to know about butternut squash, slk, thanks. Yeah, the pumpkin needs to be fully cooked. :)

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  7. I agree! Especially now when it's planting season and you can do it even cheaper by planting them yourself! Save money, create memories, and when the pumpkins are ready to harvest you'll have tons of fun getting them off the vine! You don't have to grow tons and tons of them either. I plant about 5 seeds and normally end up with enough pumpkins for my small family!

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  8. You're right, Anonymous! If you have room to grow them, they're lots of fun and one plant will produce several pumpkins, each of which will make several pumpkin pies! :)

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  9. Something else I have been doing wiht my frozen jack o'lantern pumpkin is mixing a cup or two in with my mashed potatoes! It is incredible and has a slightly nutty flavor! I also sometimes add a little bit of shredded cheese to it along with onion powder.
    I was given LOTS of free pumpkins from our church after a harvest party so I decided to cook them and freeze them and use them in whatever I want!

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  10. That's a good idea, Beth. I like pumpkin cooked and seasoned like mashed potatoes anyway. You can do a lot of things with pumpkin and it's cheap enough (or free!) to experiment with. It's good for you, too.

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  11. We've used our "Halloween pumpkins" for several years now. (we don't cut them, just sit them on the porch.) Part of them we puree, part we roast.
    I have a sandwich bread recipe that uses pumpkin; we also have a soup recipe.
    I've read a couple of articles that said not to use the jack o' lantern pumpkins -- what a waste.

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  12. DW, I agree. It's silly to waste like that. It's food and it's good food.

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  13. You asked why would anyone buy canned pumpkin..well I guess I am anyone because I do. I don't buy pumpkins to decorate. I don't know how to process a pumpkin if I did buy them and I only use a small amount of pumpkin per year. So for me it is better to buy those one or two cans then to take up freezer space then forget I have them in there and it goes to waste. To each his/her own but not every tip fits everyone!

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  14. You're right in that not every tip suits everyone, but just a heads up: You probably pay more for those one or two cans of pumpkin than I do for a whole one, at least four or five cans' worth. Processing a pumpkin is as simple as cooking it, then mashing or putting it in a blender. Is there no one you could share a pumpkin with when it's in season? Why pay more than you have to?

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  15. Okay, I know I will sound really dumb, but I have only used canned pumpkin. So, you cut the pumpkin open, take out the seeds, peel it, and discard all of that.. and then cut up the "meat" of the pumpkin and boil until tender? Is that correct? And can you roast the seeds?

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  16. Dee, cut the pumpkin in two, or just cut off the top and get the seeds out. Clean out the stringy part, then bake the pumpkin at about 350 degrees until it's tender. Let it cool, then you can peel the skin off easily. And yes, roast the seeds like you do sunflower seeds.

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  17. Or you could use pureed/mashed carrots to replace pumpkin.

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  18. I find my oven is expensive to use, so I cut up & peel the chunks of pumpkin, then cook them in a covered caserole in the microwave with just a tiny bit of water. Then mash.

    I often use butternut squash in place of pumpkin - one advantage is that fresh pumpkin will spoil after a month or two, but butternut squash (not the other varieties of squash) keeps well for six months or more, at cool room temperature, in a dry room. I've had 30+ squash sitting around the edges of a room & maybe 3 or 4 will spoil (don't set them on carpet or furniture, just in case) but the rest were good & I still had a few in good condition in April.

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  19. Using the microwave is a good idea if it saves you money. I would still cook it before peeling it. If a pumpkin is cured before bringing in to the house, "they" say it will keep two to three months, which is just right for Thanksgiving pies.

    I have kept them longer than that when I have had more than one pumpkin so didn't need the extra for Thanksgiving.

    They do have to be properly cured to keep, though, and I don't know if the ones you buy at the grocery have been cured.

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  20. I just wanted to say I really like your blog! Keep up the great work!!

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

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  21. This has been really interesting to read. I currently use TONS of canned pumpkin. When I heard of the shortage I went out and cleared the shelves in several stores around my area. I do a lot of baking for the hollidays and probably use 10 or 15 cans for that. But this is nothing compared to the amount of pumpkin that I use for my Dogs. Yes you read that correct my Dogs! I have a toy poodle that has a digestive issue, we had tons of test run and spent a ton of money on her just to find out that she was constipated! Our vet recommended adding Canned Pumpkin to her diet, and to my other 3 dogs as well. We have been using this for about a year now and they have all greatly improved in health! Pumpkin was the cure for them!

    Due to this shortage I am almost out of the over 50 large cans that I had purchased.

    From reading your blog I will be trying Butternut squash until the pumpkin harvist comes in.

    My question for everyone is if I decide to process my own pumpkins can I "can" it in canning jars? so that I do not have to freeze it? I just don't have the freezer space for the amount of pumpkin I will be needing.

    Thank you so much for this info and for any advice you can give me.

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  22. Nathan, it's not recommended that you can pumpkin at home due to its density. You might want to look into dehydrating it, though - that's easy to do and it stores well. You would just have to remember to rehydrate it in time to use it.

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  23. I just read some info about canning being bad on the internet. I had no clue. That is very interesting. I may try to vaccuum seal it in bags and see if I can find some freezer space.

    Thanks for your help

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  24. I have found that the styrian pumkin can be used for anything pumpkin, it keeps about as well as butternt squash. This Spring I dug seeds out of a pumkin to plant and then used the pumpkin. And the seeds have no hulls and are a fabulous source of protein.

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  25. Martie, I've been wanting to try the "naked seed" pumpkin but haven't yet. Do they take as much room as a regular pumpkin? My backyard is getting kind of full...

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  26. It seems to me, you are right

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