Pumpkin puree is an essential ingredient in many tasty dishes, particularly ones that are popular in the fall and during the holiday season.
In a perfect world, all of your recipes would call for exactly the amount of pumpkin puree that you find in a standard can, but unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to store leftover pumpkin puree. We will also provide some creative and delectable ways to use it up!
What Is Pumpkin Puree?
Let’s quickly clarify what we mean by pumpkin puree. It’s pretty simple: pumpkin puree is just cooked pumpkin that has been thoroughly blended in a food processor to create a thick, smooth paste.
Pumpkin puree is made out of the flesh of the pumpkin, which is the part attached to the outside skin. If you buy canned pumpkin puree, it will likely contain some other similar plants, such as squash, but this won’t impact the taste or how you use it.
What Is the Difference Between Pumpkin Puree and Canned Pumpkin?
There really is no difference between these two in cooking; if your recipe calls for one, you can use the other with no problem. The only difference is that canned pumpkin is pumpkin puree that has been preserved in a can, while pumpkin puree in general could be stored in any kind of container or made fresh.
What Is Pumpkin Puree Used for?
There are tons of uses for pumpkin puree! Here are just a few:
- Pumpkin pie — the quintessential use!
- Pumpkin cheesecake
- Pumpkin bread
- Pumpkin soup
- Pumpkin curry
- Pumpkin butter
- Pumpkin ice cream
- Pumpkin fudge
These are just a few of our favorites. Let your creative juices flow by finding a recipe that sounds good to you and your family.
How to Store Unopened Pumpkin Puree
Chances are very good that you bought your pumpkin puree in a can. As you probably know, canning is a terrific method of preserving food that has been used since the early 1800s.
Cans of pumpkin puree come with an expiration date, but you can use it even once that date has passed as long as the can is not opened or damaged. Dates on cans usually pertain to quality rather than safety; that said, if you pass the expiration date, it might not taste as good.
Store all canned goods in a cool, dry place. Your kitchen cabinets or pantry are fine, as would be the garage; avoid any place where the cans are going to be in sunlight.
How to Store Leftover Pumpkin Puree
As soon as you open your can of pumpkin puree, it will begin to deteriorate, just as with all canned goods. There are two main methods for storing leftover pumpkin puree.
The first is in the refrigerator. Put the leftover puree in an airtight container and leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
You should use refrigerated pumpkin puree within one week. Be sure to smell it and taste a little bit of it first to make sure that it hasn’t gone bad.
The other way to store it is in the freezer, where it will last a lot longer — up to a year. Again, use an airtight container; we recommend a plastic freezer bag because you can squeeze all of the air out of it.
To defrost, put the pumpkin puree in the refrigerator overnight. It should be nice and soft by morning.
Alternatively, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave. Just don’t leave it on your kitchen counter; room temperature defrosting allows too many bacteria to grow on food, and it can become unsafe to eat.
What About Homemade Pumpkin Puree?
In recent years, pumpkin-flavored foods have exploded as people have rediscovered the nutritional qualities and delicious taste of this vegetable. Whether you grow them in your garden or buy them at a market, pumpkin puree is one of the easiest ways to enjoy pumpkins.
Homemade pumpkin puree is a great way to use those decorative pumpkins that you bought for the fall. One quick note of caution: don’t make pumpkin puree from jack-o-lanterns; since their flesh has sat open and exposed to the elements, it just isn’t a good idea.
Storing homemade pumpkin puree works in much the same way as storing opened canned pumpkin puree. In the refrigerator, store in an airtight container and use within one week.
In the freezer, store in a freezer bag and defrost when ready to use, ideally within a year.
One freezing idea that we love for homemade pumpkin puree (or leftover canned) is to freeze it in ice trays. That way, you can defrost just a little bit at a time to use whenever you want it.
Since store-bought pumpkin puree usually comes in a can, is it a smart idea to can homemade pumpkin puree? Unfortunately, probably not: it is not recommended in the US Department of Agriculture’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.
Finally, don’t forget about your pumpkin seeds! Pumpkin seeds can be salted and roasted for an absolutely delicious snack that is packed in protein, not to mention omega-6 fatty acids, iron, Vitamin A, and more.
Can Pumpkin Puree Be Composted?
Composting is a terrific alternative when you don’t have any other uses for leftover foods such as pumpkin. Usually pumpkin puree can be composted as long as it doesn’t have added ingredients; if it does, check to see if those can be composted before throwing it onto your pile.
Pumpkins in general are also packed with good stuff that makes them a great fertilizer, so it is a very good thing to add to your compost pile.
Composting can also be a great way to dispose of carved pumpkins, especially when compared to throwing them in the trash. Even if you don’t compost, you can leave your carved pumpkins in a heavily wooded area for animals to eat (don’t put them too close to your house or any other inhabited structure, since they will attract bugs and other creatures).
Other Ideas for Using Leftover Pumpkin Puree
We already listed just a few of the hundreds of uses for pumpkin puree above. Any one of those are great ideas for using leftover pumpkin puree.
That said, you might not have enough left over to make an entirely new pumpkin-centered dish. Try one of these ideas if you just have part of a can left.
Add it to a yogurt parfait or oatmeal. Pumpkin has a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, so add it to these breakfast dishes for a boost of nutrition to start your day.
Make a pumpkin smoothie. Another breakfast option: why not make a pumpkin smoothie? It tastes great when blended with banana and Greek yogurt.
Make a cocktail. Pumpkin tastes yummy with spiced rum especially, and it makes a festive holiday or autumn drink.
Make homemade pumpkin spice latte. As long as we’re talking about drinks, we can’t ignore the pumpkin spice latte; try making it at home.
Make dog treats. Pumpkin isn’t just healthy for humans, but for dogs as well! Mix the puree with peanut butter and oats and bake until set and crispy; bonus if you have a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter to use!
There are so many uses for pumpkin puree that there is no reason for any of it to go to waste. Proper storage means that you can safely use all of it, and enjoy lots of pumpkin treats!
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.