In this post, we will learn how to can pumpkin. Pumpkins are a low acid food so we will have to use a pressure canner, but don’t let it scare you! I’ll show you step-by-step how easy it is to can your pumpkins using a pressure canner so you can enjoy your harvest (or the pumpkins you got throughout the season) year round.
I love canning. It’s definitely a process but I love that I can preserve something in a way that I am not dependent on electricity to keep it.
I think jars of homemade canned food, especially vegetables, are a beautiful thing to look at, but what I love most of all about canning is that there is no need to remember ahead of time to thaw the food. It’s just there on the shelf waiting for you to use it.
But, if to be honest, my least favorite thing to can are vegetables. I like my vegetables firm and crunchy and fresh, but, since most of the time, the canning process involves cooking them they turn mushy and soft. Not my favorite texture when it comes to vegetables.
However, with pumpkins (or canning tomato sauce, for example) it doesn’t really matter since I most likely am going to use what I can to make a puree.
BUT! We can’t can pumpkin puree. The National Center for Home Food Preservation states that “only pressure canning methods are recommended for canning cubed pumpkin”.
This is honestly not a big deal because the cubed pumpkin inside the jars is going to be soft, so when you want to use it you just get the cubes out of the jar and mash them to make a puree. Supper simple.
I know a lot of people are a bit afraid of the pressure canner. I was too at the beginning, but seriously, it’s not hard at all. Let me show you how to can pumpkin the right way…
How to Can Pumpkin – a Step-By-Step Picture Tutorial
Now, let’s get one thing clear… You won’t hear me telling you to use this kind or that kind of pumpkin. I honestly don’t care if my pumpkins are pie pumpkins or a cheap curving pumpkin. I love them all! A pumpkin is a pumpkin and I turn red when someone tells me that they tossed their pumpkin because it wasn’t a pie pumpkin.
It’s a pumpkin. Even if you decorate with it during the fall you can still eat it when it’s time to redecorate.
So, now that we got that out of the way, let’s start!
I bought this beauty at Walmart the other day. Again, it’s probably a pumpkin they sell for people to make a Jack-O-Lantern from but for me, it’s a delicious pumpkin, period.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any pumpkins in the garden this year. Since I am going through a separation from my husband I had to let my huge summer garden go this year and just concentrate elsewhere, so you can only imagine how excited I was when I finally spotted a pumpkin at the store!
I grabbed a few and headed home to process them.
We start by sticking a sharp knife at the top of the pumpkin and cutting around the stem…
Until we can remove it.
Next, cut the pumpkin in half.
Now we want to clean the inside. The pumpkin seeds are just as exciting as the pumpkin itself. Check this post to learn about 15 amazing health benefits of pumpkin seeds, and check how I roast my pumpkin seeds for a yummy fall snack!
Ok, after we removed the seeds it’s time to peel the pumpkin. I used my vegetable peeler and it worked just fine but if you are having a hard time you can always use a knife.
I was able to remove most of the peel…
Then I sliced the pumpkin further to allow me a better access to the little bit that was left.
Just keep going peeling and cutting the pumpkin further…
Until you have 1” pumpkin cubes.
Place your pumpkin cubes in a big pot and fill it with water to cover the pumpkin.
This is the hardest part of this whole process! From now on it’s simple canning.
So, place your pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil. once the water is boiling, let the pumpkin cook for 2 minutes. Then turn the heat off and remove the pot from the burner.
While the pumpkin is doing its thing on the stove top, we can work on sanitizing our canning jars. There are a few different ways to do this, one of them is boiling the jars in a pot of water, but I prefer to simply stick them in the oven.
So first, wash them well, dry them, and place on a baking sheet. Turn your oven to 325 F and stick the jars in there for ten minutes. When they are done, turn the oven off and remove the baking sheet with the jars. From this point on you must remember not to touch the rim of the jars with your fingers, we want to keep that part clean.
While the jars are doing their thing in the oven, place your ids and rings in a pot, fill it with water and bring to a boil. Let the lids and rings boil for a few minutes. Then just turn the heat off, leave everything in the pot.
Make sure your canning supplies are clean and set them up on the counter. Bring the pot with the pumpkin (still in its cooking water) close by as well.
**You can find all the supplies I use for canning in my Amazon store HERE.
All right, let’s fill these jars, shall we?
Make sure to use your jar lifters to pick up the jar and set it on your workspace. Set the funnel on top…
Use a ladle to scoop up some pumpkin cubes, be gentle not to make a mash out of them, and drop them in the jar…
Until it’s full…
Then fill the jar with the pumpkin’s cooking water leaving one-inch headspace.
Now, see the air bubble in the center of the picture inside of the jar?
We don’t want that…
So grab your bubble remover and slide it down and around the inside of the jar to remove all the air bubbles.
With a clean paper towel, clean the rim of the jar…
Then, with the magnetic lid lifter grab a lid from the pot and place it on the rim.
Lastly, grab a ring and close the jar. Make sure the ring is not on too tight, just finger tight…
That’s it… Keep filling the rest of the jars until they are all full.
Set your pressure canner on the stove top…
Keep the rack inside and fill the canner with about three inches of water (or follow manufacture directions for your canner).
Use the jar lifter to lift the filled jars into the canner. I processed half of a large pumpkin here so I ended up with four quarts.
Close the canner and turn the heat on. I use a simple dial gauge canner (by Presto). Notice that the weight is not on the vent.
We want to bring the canner to a point where it starts to steam (steam will come out of the vent). From that moment, let it steam for ten minutes.
After ten minutes of venting, place the weight on the vent and watch the gauge.
If you live in 0-2000 ft altitude – once the gauge reaches 11 psi, lower the heat a bit. You want to find the right temperature to keep the gauge at 11 psi for 90 minutes for quart jars (for me it was medium-high heat) or 55 minutes for pint jars.
If you live in 2000-4000 ft altitude – you want to keep 12 psi. 90 minutes for quart jars and 55 for pints.
If you live in 4000-6000 ft altitude – you want to keep 13 psi. 90 minutes for quart jars and 55 for pints.
If you live in 6000-8000 ft altitude – you want to keep 14 psi. 90 minutes for quart jars and 55 for pints.
If you are using a weighted gauge pressure canner like this one, you want to keep 10 psi if you live in altitude between 0-1000 ft or 15 psi if you live above 1000 ft. The processing time is the same.
Remember, you start the time from the moment you placed the weight on the vent.
Once processing is done, turn off the heat and leave the canner for a while to cool. I leave it for an hour or more and just go do something else.
When you come back, remove the weight and if no steam is coming out you can go ahead and open the canner.
Use your jar lifters to remove the jars and place them on a kitchen towel on the counter to cool down overnight.
Beautiful isn’t it!?
You most likely are going to hear the beautiful sound of the jars sealing as they cool if they didn’t already seal inside the canner.
When the jars are completely cooled, remove the rings (it’s better to store canned food without the ring so you can see if something funny is growing on top of the food), and store your jars in the pantry or root cellar (a cool and dry place).
Now when you want to make anything with pumpkins just open one, drain the water and use your pumpkin in cubes or you can easily mash them into a puree (here are 47 fresh pumpkin recipes to give you some ideas).
I’ll try to can as many pumpkins as I can this fall. I hope this post will motivate you to go get the canner out and spend some time in the kitchen!!
If you would like to read further about canning pumpkins at home, I found this great article: How to Make Home Canned Pumpkin. They prepare the pumpkin a bit different than how I do it.
Feel free to share with me your thoughts and experience with canning pumpkins in the comments below!