Figuring out how to can pumpkin pie filling is a handy skill. For one, it’s a great way to make use of seasonal pumpkins.
Plus, you get to enjoy having enough pumpkins to eat throughout the year! So, if you’re wondering how to preserve this fruit using canning, keep reading to find out!
Should You Can Pumpkin Pie Filling?
The short answer is that it depends. You can store pumpkin pie filling using the pressure canning method. However, that’s only applicable to pumpkin chunks.
If you’re looking to can pumpkin pie puree or mashed pumpkin, well, that’s a different story. Mashed pumpkin has a high density. As a result, heat doesn’t transfer well through it, especially in the center.
Now, you want the high temperature to reach the entire filling to ensure the absence of harmful bacteria like Clostridium botulinum. Those microorganisms grow well in low-pH foods like pumpkin and produce a fatal toxin.
That said, you can’t store some varieties, like spaghetti squash, through canning. That’s because the fruit turns into a puree once heated, so you should freeze the pumpkin instead of canning it for long-term preservation.
How to Can Pumpkin Pie Filling
To can pumpkin pie filling, you’ll need clean mason jars, lids, and a pressure canner. You’ll also need a saucepot filled with boiling water.
Here are four steps to canning pumpkin pie filling:
Step 1: Prepare the Pumpkin
Before canning pumpkins, you first need to cut the fruit into cubes.
Start by removing the gourd’s top. You want to make a circular cut, just like you’d typically do when craving a jack-o’-lantern.
Then, cut the pumpkin into wedges—around four to five sections would do. The former step makes it easier to scrape off the pulp and seeds, which can be tricky.
Using a big spoon, remove the pulp. For a quick peeling technique, use a vegetable peeler to skin the pumpkin.
However, you might need a sharp knife to do that process if you’re dealing with a thick rind. Watch out for your fingers, though, as deshelling pumpkins can be dangerous.
Once you remove the skin, cut the pumpkin wedges into medium-sized cubes, and you’re ready for blanching!
Step 2: Blanch the Pumpkin Cubes
For those who don’t know, blanching is boiling vegetables or fruits for a few minutes to give them a quick scalding before freezing. That process preserves the fruit’s quality, but it doesn’t make pumpkins immune to spoilage.
However, blanching helps remove dirt and microorganisms from the chunks’ surface. It also slows down vitamin and nutrient loss, so the fruit retains its freshness.
How to Blanch Pumpkins
The process is quite simple. Just fill a saucepot with water and let it boil. Then, cook the pumpkin cubes for around 3-4 minutes, depending on their size, before transferring the gourd into ice water.
Drain the squash to let it dry completely. You can also spread it on a baking sheet and pat it dry using kitchen towels.
Alternatively, you can steam-blanch the pumpkins. Simply place a strainer an inch or two above the boiling water. Put the pumpkin into the strainer-pot combo and cover it with the lid.
Steam blanching’s cooking time is about one and a half times longer than normal blanching. So, the pumpkins should be done after about 5-6 minutes.
It’s worth mentioning that time is crucial when it comes to blanching. If you undercook or overcook the pumpkins, you risk spoiling them faster.
Why Is Blanching Time Important?
You see, all enzymes have optimal activity temperatures. Generally, the warmer the medium is, the faster enzymes work.
So, when you subject pumpkins to high temperatures for a short period, you risk activating the enzymes. Consequently, the filling loses its quality faster.
In contrast, over-blanching causes excessive softening of the fruit. As a result, the pumpkin loses flavor, color, and nutrients.
Step 3: Clean the Canning Jars
Using clean glass jars is crucial to preserving any food. You don’t want to introduce germs from the air or other foods into the pumpkin.
Not only do sterile cooking utensils maintain the longevity of the filling, but they also protect you from food-borne illnesses. That’s because you reduce the number of bacteria, yeast, and fungi that multiply in food and produce life-threatening toxins.
So, how do you disinfect jars?
The quickest and easiest way to clean mason jars is to put them in the dishwasher. Just run a high-temperature cycle to sanitize the containers.
You can also wash the jars with soapy water, place them in a pot filled with water, and boil them for around 10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can put the jars on a tray, preheat the oven to 275ºF, and throw the tray into the oven. You should let the heat sterilize the jars for at least 20 minutes.
That said, the above methods only work for heat-tolerant jars made from tempered glass. So, make sure to check whether or not the containers resist heat to prevent unfortunate accidents.
Step 4: Fill and Seal the Jars
This is a pretty straightforward step. All you need to do is wait until the jars cool down and dry completely.
Next, fill them using a spoon. You can use a large-opening funnel for convenience.
Make sure to leave around an inch from the top empty to leave room for the boiling liquid. Pour the pumpkin’s cooking liquid and use a knife to remove air bubbles.
Then, fasten the lids and pressure can the jars. Once you reach the desired pressure, turn off the heat and let the canner cool for 45 minutes before removing the jars.
Lastly, cool the containers for 12 to 24 hours and store them in a cool, dark, and dry place for up to 12 months.
Now you might be thinking, “why let the jars cool down when we’re going to pressure can them anyway?” That’s to ensure the glass doesn’t burst.
When heated, glass expands and shrinks. So, once you place cold pumpkins inside hot jars, they’ll shrink quickly. That creates strains, which eventually cause the jars to break.
As you can see, learning how to can pumpkin pie filling is pretty simple. All you need to do is cut the pumpkin into cubes, flash-cook them, and then pressure can the filling.
Once you complete the above step, you just need to store the filling in a cool, dry, and dark place.
That way, you ensure that you have a pumpkin pie filling supply for up to one year! So, whenever you crave this delicious pie, you can make it regardless of the season.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.