How to Can Pumpkin

Three Methods:Preparing the JarsPreparing the PumpkinCanning the Pumpkin

Due to the low acidity of pumpkin, this squash can be difficult to can safely. You can only can pumpkin as partially cooked cubes, and you must allow the jars to remain in the canner for a long time to ensure a thorough, safe seal.


  • 5 pie pumpkins


  • 9 pint-size (500-ml) jars

Method 1
Preparing the Jars

  1. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 1
    Choose glass canning jars that are in good condition. The jars should be free of cracks or chips to prevent any air from bleeding in after the canning process and to prevent the glass from breaking under pressure. They should also have metal lids that screw on securely. Two-piece lids tend to have the best seal.
  2. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 2
    Wash the jars and lids with soap and water. Fill the sink with hot water and dish detergent. Use a clean dishcloth to scrub the inside and outside of each jar with the soapy water. The jars need to be cleaned thoroughly; any lingering bacteria can cause the pumpkin to go bad quickly even after being canned.
  3. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 3
    Sterilize the jars in boiling water. As an additional precaution, you should sterilize the canning jars and lids in hot water. Fill a large stockpot with water and set it to a boil. Dip the jars and lids into the water and allow them to stay there for 15 minutes. Remove them with jar tongs.
  4. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 4
    Dry the jars. You can dry them out with a dish towel, or you can allow them to air dry by tipping them upside-down in a dish drying rack.

Method 2
Preparing the Pumpkin

  1. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 5
    Use ripe pie pumpkins. These pumpkins are also called sugar pumpkins because they have a little more sweetness and a little more flavor than larger pumpkins. Pumpkins with a deep orange color and hard rind tend to be the most flavorful and the most ripe. Avoid using pumpkins that are moldy or rotted.
  2. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 6
    Wash the exterior of the pumpkins. It is important for the outside of the pumpkin to be clean in order to prevent bacteria from contaminating the inner flesh. Scrub the exterior in warm water, but do not use soap. Pat it dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  3. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 7
    Cut the pumpkin in half. Use a large serrated knife and carefully saw the pumpkin in half. Set the pumpkin down with the stem up on a smooth counter top. Hold it steady with one hand and use your other hand to saw the knife back and forth through the pumpkin until the two halves are separated.
    • Do not use a smooth knife. A smooth knife does not have enough of a "grip" for pumpkins and is more like the slip and hurt you as you cut.
  4. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 8
    Scrape the seeds out. A heavy ice cream scoop accomplishes the task well, but any large metal spoon will work. Continue scraping the inner sides of the pumpkin until all the strings and seeds have been gutted out.
  5. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 9
    Cut the pumpkin into wedges. The cooking process will be much easier if the pumpkin is cut into smaller pieces. Each half can be cut into about four pieces. Be sure to cut away the stem and discard it, as well.
  6. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 10
    Fill the bottom half of a large double pot steamer with water.[1] You could also use a large stockpot with a steaming basket inside.
  7. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 11
    Place the pumpkin wedges inside the top portion of the steamer. Position the wedges so that the flesh faces downward. Make sure that the lid of the steamer or pot will fit securely over the pumpkins, since you will need the steam to cook the pumpkin and a loose lid will allow the steam to escape.
  8. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 12
    Boil the water and steam the pumpkins. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam the pumpkins for 20 to 30 minutes or until soft.
  9. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 13
    Alternatively, cook the pumpkins in the microwave. If you do not have a double steamer, you can cook the pumpkins by placing them into a large microwavable glass bowl and adding 2 inches (5 cm) of water. Microwave on high in 10 minute increments until soft. Usually, this takes 20 to 30 minutes.
  10. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 14
    Let cool slightly. Before attempting to peel or cut the pumpkin, you should give it a little time to cool down. Otherwise, you may end up burning yourself. Wait until the pumpkin rind is cool to the touch before handling further.
  11. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 15
    Peel the skin off. Hold the pumpkin still with one hand, using an oven mitt if it is still somewhat hot. With the other hand, carefully slide a blunt knife in between the skin and the flesh. When the skin starts coming up, finish peeling the rest away with your fingers.
  12. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 16
    Cut the pumpkins into cubes. The cubes should be about 1 inch (2.5 cm) all around. Do not mash the pumpkin.

Method 3
Canning the Pumpkin

  1. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 17
    Boil water. If you still have the liquid you cooked the pumpkins in, this can be reused. Otherwise, boil about 4 pints (2 liters) of fresh water.
  2. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 18
    Pack the pumpkin cubes into the jars. Use your hands or a large spoon. Do not mash the cubes into the jar. Instead, allow them to sit somewhat loosely. Leave about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of headspace or empty space in between the pumpkins and the top of the jar.
  3. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 19
    Pour the boiling water into the jars. Pour the water slowly to prevent it from splashing out and to allow it to fill the empty spaces in between the cubes of pumpkin. Make sure that approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) of empty headspace still remains in each jar.
  4. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 20
    Put the lids onto the jars. Make sure that the lids are screwed on securely. If the lids are too loose, you will not be able to create a seal during the canning process.
  5. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 21
    Fill a pressure canner with 3 inches (7 2/3 cm) of water. Heat the water to boiling. You must use a pressure canner when canning pumpkin.
  6. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 22
    Place the jars in the canner. Use jar tongs to carefully place the jars on the rack inside the canner. Do not allow the jars to clink together as you move them. If the jars do collide, they may crack.
  7. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 23
    Cover the canner but allow it to vent. Put the heat on high while the pressure valve is still open. Allow the steam to escape through this vent for ten minutes to purge the air inside.
  8. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 24
    Set the weight and close the vents.[2] Close all the valves to allow pressure to build inside the canner. You will also need to set the weight, but the amount of weight will vary depending the time of pressure canner used as well as your present altitude.
    • If using a dial-gauge pressure canner, set the weight to 11 lb (4.99 kg)for altitudes up to 2000 feet (609.6 m). Add 1 lb (0.45 kg) of weight for every additional 2000 feet (609.6 m), stopping at 14 lb (6.35 kg).
    • If using a weighted-gauge pressure canner, set the weight to 10 lb (4.54 kg) for altitudes up to 1000 feet (304.8 m). For any higher altitude, set the weight to 15 lb (6.8 kg).
  9. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 25
    Process the jars for 55 minutes. If using quart-size (liter-size) jars, however, you will need to process the pumpkin for 90 minutes.
  10. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 26
    Turn off the canner and let cool. Turn off the heat after the jars have finished processing. After the pressure drops to zero, wait three additional minutes and open the vent to release the steam.
  11. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 27
    Remove the jars and let cool. Open the canner and lift the jars out with jar tongs. Set them to dry and cool in a draft-free area. Do not allow them to touch or bump into each other.
  12. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 28
    Check the seals. After the jars have cooled overnight, press on the center of each lid to check the seal. If it does not move, the jars have been sealed properly. If the center button "pops" or moves up and down when pressed, the jars have not been sealed and are not safe for long-term storage.
  13. Image titled Can Pumpkin Step 29
    Store sealed jars in a dark, cool area. A basement or refrigerator works best.


  • Save the seeds, if desired. They can be roasted and enjoyed as snacks or saved and used for planting.


  • Do not attempt to can pumpkin puree.[3] The USDA specifically warns against doing so. The amount of variation in the viscosity or thickness of pumpkin puree makes it impossible to calculate a single processing time, and the low acidity in pumpkin means that there is a higher risk of bacteria growing in pumpkin that has been improperly canned. Only can cubed pumpkin to avoid a health hazard.

Things You’ll Need

  • 9 pint-size (500 ml) glass canning jars and lids
  • Jar tongs
  • Large serrated knife
  • Large stockpot or microwavable dish
  • Pressure canner
  • Dish towels

Article Info

Categories: Food Preservation Techniques