Everything you need to know about canned pumpkin ~ Have you stocked up? Because you never know, the great pumpkin shortage of ’15 could rear its ugly head again at any time…be prepared, that’s my motto.
This time of year canned pumpkin becomes a staple in our house, and on any given shopping trip there’s always a can or two in my grocery cart.
What exactly is in canned pumpkin?
It’s a more interesting question that you might think…canned pumpkin isn’t always ‘pumpkin‘. The FDA allows companies to use a range of winter squash in their canned puree including hubbard and butternut. This is because the term pumpkin has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning. It’s true ~ Snopes it!
Before you get all hot under the collar about this, take a breath ~ canned pumpkin manufacturers will combine the best and most flavorful of any given year’s harvest for their products, so you aren’t missing out on anything. If you’ve ever taken the time to roast, peel, and puree your Halloween pumpkin you’ll know that it isn’t always worth the trouble ;)
The ability to mix and match varieties means that we won’t have to do without if there’s a dud pumpkin crop on any given year. I’m all for it!
Is canned pumpkin healthy?
Yes, surprisingly so. My can of pumpkin puree lists one ingredient: pumpkin.
Pumpkin is a super food, just like other winter squashes. It’s nutrient dense, low fat, full of fiber, and low in calories. Obviously when you mix healthy pumpkin with sugar and fats to make sweet treats it’s not particularly good for you, but as an ingredient, it’s up there with the best of them. That gorgeous golden color signifies awesome amounts of Beta Carotene.
Make sure you buy 100% pure pumpkin puree, not pie mix, they’re completely different! Just read the label carefully because often the cans look alike.
Can I make my own pumpkin puree?
- You sure can, but from my experience it isn’t worth it. It’s a laborious job, because you’ve got to cut, seed, cook, scrape, and puree your squash. And in the end you’re left with something that’s often more watery, and with less flavor, than the canned stuff.
- If you look into it, you’ll find that canned pumpkin is actually higher in nutrients than the fresh made…and the canned puree actually works out to be cheaper, so why bother?
- If you’re following recipes developed with canned pumpkin, using fresh pumpkin puree can be a problem because it’s definitely more watery. Best to cook it down in a saucepan to thicken it up before using.
- Bottom line, I recommend doing it at least once just for the experience. It’s a fun project to do with kids, and I outline the process for you here. If you grow your own pumpkins, or have access to great fresh pumpkins, go for it. You can freeze the extra for later. But if you’re considering conscripting your Halloween pumpkin for dessert, nix the thought ;) You want to choose small ‘sugar’ or ‘pie’ pumpkins specifically bred for making into puree for cooking.
What to do with a can of pumpkin puree
I thought you’d never ask! I’ve got a million and one ideas for using pumpkin puree on the blog, all of them insanely delicious :) Here’s a short list to get you started…
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Bread
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies
- Pumpkin Spice Biscuits
- No Churn Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
- The Best Pumpkin Crumb Cake
- Pecan Praline Pumpkin Cake
How to use Pumpkin as a healthy substitute in baking
- Pumpkin can be used in place of oil in baked goods and cake mixes. Use it in the same amounts.
- To substitute for eggs, sub 1/4 cup pumpkin puree for each egg.
- To sub for butter, use just 3/4 of the amount of butter called for. Alternatively you can use half pumpkin and half butter.
- Just for fun I’ll often substitute pumpkin puree for mashed banana in my breads and cakes.
Is canned pumpkin good for dogs?
- Yes, and dogs love it. It can help with digestive issues, urinary health, and weight loss. (You can read all about giving pumpkin to dogs here.)
A basic recipe for a healthy pumpkin dog treat:
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- Mix everything in a bowl unll the dough comes together. It helps to use your hands at the end to thoroughly mix the dough. Add a touch more pumpkin puree if the dough seems too dry to come together.
- Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb the pumpkin.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Cut shapes with a dog bone cutter and place on a cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until crisp.
- Biscuits will keep a week at room temperature, or up to a month in the refrigerator (makes 1 1/2 dozen.)