Pumpkin – Canned or Homemade???

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on October 17, 2011

Katie asks…

I have read many of your posts this year and last about pumpkin. As someone who makes many items from scratch (chicken stock, etc.), why do you use canned pumpkin? I cook up a few sugar pumpkins each fall, and freeze the puree for future pies, pancakes… whenever we are craving the taste of fall. It seems easy to do, so I wondered why use canned? I’d love your thoughts.

Excellent question.

The short answer. It’s just one of those things that I choose to take the convenience road.

The long answer. I’m just not the purist that I wish to be. In my mind, my ideal food situation would be all real food, all slow food, all organic and all local. But that’s not practical for me right now.

All I can do is my best to eat as healthfully as I can within the constrains of my $80/week budget and my busy life as a mom, author and blogger.

I don’t beat myself up when I can’t do things “perfectly” as I see them in my head. I gave that up a long time ago.

So while I’d love for every single aspect of our food to be made from scratch, it’s just not practical with my current situation in life. So I make the best choices that I can for certain convenience foods…canned pumpkin, on occasion canned beans, frozen vegetables, HCFS free ketchup, no sugar peanut butter, simply fruit jellies and occasionally “regular” jelly with sugar. I’m totally OK with knowing that I’m choosing the best products that I can for my family, as often as I can. And that if I slip off and we have something “unhealthy” every once and awhile, I’m OK with that too.

Back to the pumpkin issue at hand. I’ve made my own pumpkin puree a number of times…and it certainly is easy, as Katie said…but when push comes to shove, when life is happening so fast (despite my feeble attempts to slow it down!), some things have to give. And in this case, it’s canned pumpkin (most of the time!) for me.

What about you?! Canned or homemade?!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca N October 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Canned always.

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alexis October 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

from real pumpkin, Always….it’s just to easy to do and the savings are huge! I use your principles if I have chicken stock going on the stove, I have the pumpkin in the oven. Both get done, packed and frozen… done! Thanks for your tips!

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Tiffany October 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Always fresh! I just bring myself to make anything from pumpkin in a can! But to each their own. Love your site!

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Tiffany!

Yes…to each his own! That is very much my own philosophy with these kinds of “debates”…even though it really isn’t much of a debate :)

Erin

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Crystal October 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Prefer fresh. I always put some in the freezer this time of year. But I use both, if I go through my fresh/freezer kind I am not opposed to using can.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom October 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Good for you Crystal!

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Elisabeth October 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I always used canned…I live in FL and pumpkins just aren’t really that cheap. I’ve tried two years in a row to grow some pumpkins and both times failed miserably. So canned it is!

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Tricia October 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I always used canned. I’ve never tried making homemade pumpkin puree before, but now that I read that it’s easy to do, maybe I’ll try it.

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J Brown October 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I always used canned until the “shortages” in recent years! After I had to make my own and found it so easy, I now prefer it . . . not to mention it is a lot cheaper. I’ve been getting pie pumpkins at my Kroger for $1.29 each and each gives me about 2 cups or more (more than a can)! And this year my husband baked the whole pumpkin (just poked some air holes in them) which simplified the process-after baking we just scooped out the pumpkin and froze it! We batch cooked and in one night froze about 16 cups!

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Willa@ArmstrongFamilyFare October 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

In the past I had always used can. This year I’ve been using fresh and loving it! However, I can’t say that I would NEVER use canned again, because….well, I’m a busy mom like you and sometimes it just doesn’t fit into the schedule! But, for now I’m really enjoying my fresh pumpkin puree & have a small stash in the freezer for future use!

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Jessica October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I love pumpkin all year round. I’ve always used canned, but would love to hear how to make fresh. What’s the easiest prep method? Like you, Erin, I try to do as much from “scratch” as my schedule will allow. With little munchkins and work the day only stretches so far though! :) Kudos to those who can fit it in.

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Valerie October 17, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Does anybody know how cheap a sugar pumpkin has to be to beat the price of canned? I don’t have time to calculate that.

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Lori October 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I used to use canned for the convenience until moving overseas where almost nothing is available in a can. I have to make EVERYTHING from scratch now. Including pumpkin. thankfully fresh vegetables are cheap!

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Elizabeth T. October 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Canned. Made it myself one year, very easy, but didn’t see any major difference after it was turned into a pumpkin pie. I only use Libby’s, though. Not as a brand-slave, but because I know I always get the same thing.

Why…?
I have a little freezer. If I had a chest freezer, even a small one, heck, even if I just had a large unit attached to my fridge, I would prepare much more myself. Especially for the things we eat often and that I make better. The issue of freezer space is a separate issue, and one which drastically effects what I do or don’t put on the table.

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Shonda October 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Homemade! I agree with doing whatever works for you, at whatever season of your life – BUT…..I cooked and froze pumpkin for the first time ever last fall and that is now MY way to go!! All 3 kids went on 3 separate field trips to the local pumpkin patch and since I was a chaperone each time, I took advantage of 3 large FREE pumpkins, as well as buying a few and having some given to us throughout the season also! Believe me, I had a LOT of pumpkin and I couldn’t bear to throw any out….soooo, alas, I ended up with over 20 quart size freezer bags of pumpkin! We were able to make whatever our little pumpkin hearts desired all year long and still have a few left! My only regret – I didn’t take the time to puree before freezing – while I won’t be cooking that much pumpkin this fall, I WILL puree!!

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Cheryl M October 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Always canned, as a matter of fact I’ve got 3 in my cupboard still from a clearance rack earlier this yr. My kids were sick of pumpkin right around June & told me no more until the leaves change.

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hb October 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I have made my own a couple of times, but I compared the price and the canned was actually cheaper! Not to mention more convenient….that was several years ago so I don’t know how the shortages have affected the prices. Also that price comparison was for sugar pumpkins, traditional for baking. It would probably be cheaper to use a large pumpkin but I have tried it and did not find the consistency to be quite right, as it was more stringy and watery than a small sugar pumpkin.

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jessie rae October 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I use canned most of the time due to cost and being able to keep it longer

The fresh pumpkins cost 3-5 dollars each. After Halloween, I know they are going to be super cheap, so I will get a couple but right now the cost is too high

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Barbara B. October 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Canned,canned and canned,it’s just like you said Erin,so times you just have to buy canned,frozen & etc. You do the best you can and still try to eat healthy .

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paula October 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I have made my own cooked pumpkin too but it just seems, I don’t know, stringy maybe. It is easy to do but I just like a nice smooth pie. It all tastes yummy though and for things like muffins and bread the home grown and cooked variety is just fine;-)

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Shannon October 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Canned, I purree butternut squash for baby so I know how easy it is, but I got some big 2 cup cans for .50 each. The butternut squash was $1.88lb, and pumpkins are running $4-5 for the small pie pumpkins! If I got the pumpkin free I’d make my own:D

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Allison October 22, 2011 at 7:10 am

Always canned. I make most things from scratch on my end and the price doesn’t add up for the fresh pumpkin. At least here sugar pumpkins are expensive. If someone gave me one I would use it but I am not afraid to buy a convenience product like canned pumpkin that really is just pumpkin. There aren’t extras in the can.

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