The Peculiar, Perhaps Preposterous, and Pumpkin-y Tale of Canned “Pumpkin”

Decoding Canned Pumpkin Mystery - A can of pumpkin puree

By Larry Billinger

Fall is here! It’s that magical time when leaves provide a satisfying crunch under our feet, sweaters begin their yearly re-emergence, and practically everything sports a pumpkin twist. Truly, I’m diving headfirst into this season’s delights. Curious about my passion for fall? Dive into my article, “Finding Joy in Fall”. Pumpkin pies? Expected. But pumpkin-scented socks? Now that’s something else. Amidst this whirlwind of pumpkin craze, I had to ask: What’s the real deal with canned “pumpkin”?

Our curiosity sparked while living in China. We craved pumpkin pancakes, cookies, and pies. However, without any canned pumpkin in sight and the exorbitant price tags of imported ones, what’s a pumpkin lover to do? Fortunately, Jess, my resourceful wife, unearthed the mystery of those elusive cans. And you won’t believe it: our local store had the key ingredient! So, let’s dive into this pumpkin puzzle.

Defining What a Pumpkin Is

So, picture a pumpkin. That round, Halloween-famous globe, right? That’s none other than the iconic Connecticut Field pumpkin. Yet, surprisingly, the FDA has other ideas, proclaiming, “Any winter squash can wear the pumpkin badge!” To put it as OS_Jytz aptly does, “That can might give you pumpkin promises, but sometimes it’s all just for show.”

“Your can might be whispering sweet pumpkin nothings, but it could be all smoke and mirrors.”

OS_Jytz I dont taste a difference but I need yalls opinion. Canned pumpkin or Fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pie? : r/Cooking (

What’s Actually in That Canned Pumpkin?

Here’s the kicker: Your trusted “pumpkin” can might be swapping out the classic Connecticut Field for the elegant Dickinson squash. It’s like craving apple juice and getting a splash of orange. Refreshing, but not what you signed up for.

Why Don’t They Use Real Pumpkin?

Get this: The Dickinson, with its squad of squash buddies, steals the flavor show, making the Connecticut Field pumpkin seem like a rookie. In the culinary world, this means they’re top tier. And VonTeddy- lets us in on a secret: Most “pumpkin pie fillings” are pulling a fast one, using other squashes to nail that beloved pumpkin taste.

“canned pumpkin pie filling” usually isnt pumpkin, its other squashes that have a better more “pumpkin’y” (what we’d attribute to it) flavour. 

VonTeddy I dont taste a difference but I need yalls opinion. Canned pumpkin or Fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pie? : r/Cooking (

But here’s food for thought: Have we been duped into adoring the understudy more than the lead? It’s a tad like reaching for imitation maple syrup when the real deal is so much richer. Quite the revelation, right?

Does It Really Matter in Terms of Taste and Texture?

In the vast pumpkin puree universe, two giants stand tall. Firstly, there’s Team Canned Pumpkin. They love that consistent, go-to pumpkin flavor. Think of it as your favorite pair of worn-in jeans.

Then there’s Team Fresh Puree. These folks love the challenge, turning genuine pumpkins into culinary delights. It’s a lot like cooking without a recipe – unpredictable yet exciting.

Big names in the canned world, like Libby’s, who have their performance-enhanced squash: the Dickinson pumpkin. It’s like the all-star player of the Pumpkin League. Meanwhile, putting the “pure” in puree at home? It can be a hit or miss. Sometimes it’s airy and smooth; other times, it’s… a learning experience.

“Handle the Heat” dives headlong into this pumpkin debate, highlighting the good, the bad, and the occasionally runny. GGordonGetty chimes in, suggesting many stick to the familiar canned variety. But for the daring souls, a fresh puree experiment could be the order of the day!

“Canned pumpkin is roasted in the can, and it’s very consistent. I now only use canned pumpkin.”

GGordonGetty I dont taste a difference but I need yalls opinion. Canned pumpkin or Fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pie? : r/Cooking (


In conclusion, the heart of the matter isn’t whether your “pumpkin” is donning a disguise. Instead, it’s the cherished memories, rich flavors, and shared chuckles that garnish every pie slice. Whether you’re cheering for Team Classic or Team Curveball, let’s revel in the season’s delectable deceptions. Here’s to a season bursting with flavor, and may your pies always hold a sprinkle of mystery. Cheers to a scrumptious pumpkin – or should I say, squash – season!

1 thought on “The Peculiar, Perhaps Preposterous, and Pumpkin-y Tale of Canned “Pumpkin”

  1. Ah, the days of hauling home monster squash and roasting it in our toaster oven. Lol. I’m solidly “team canned” all the way. Although I do sometimes miss carving pomelos. Haha!

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