Pantry 101: Canned vs. fresh pumpkin

Is fresh or canned pumpkin the key to your perfect slice of pie?

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canned vs fresh pumpkin
Illustration, Erica Rodrigues.

Ah, autumn! It’s one of the most magical times of year. And what better way to enjoy the season is there, than baking up smooth and silky pumpkin pie? Whether you’re planning on taking the classic approach or are planning to add a modern edge, you still have to decide whether using canned or fresh pumpkin is the key to your perfect slice. So, which side are you on?

 

Canned pumpkin
While tins of canned pumpkin boast images of perfectly vibrant orange pumpkins, most cans don’t actually use sugar pumpkins for their purée. Instead, you’ll find Dickinson pumpkins, which are more closely related to butternut squash. With deep orange flesh and creamy, pale skin, they’re usually the pumpkin of choice for most high-end canning companies (although some do use a variety of squash instead). Canned pumpkin is the obvious convenient option, especially when baking up a last-minute pie. It can also be preferred for its thicker texture and darker colour when compared to fresh.

 

Fresh pumpkin
Sugar pumpkins are the pumpkin of choice when it comes to making your own purée. They’re small and well-rounded, with tight, firm skin and a beautifully bright flesh that maintains its colour when cooked. While sugar pumpkins can be found at some grocery stores, they’re abundant in the countryside at roadside stands and patches alike, making them the ideal choice for any locavore (and for anyone needing an excuse for a charming outdoor excursion!). While they can be chopped and boiled or sliced and baked, the easiest way to cook them is to pierce their flesh with a fork, set on a baking sheet and roast in the oven (at 350 degrees) until super-soft. Simply cut open once cooked, discard the seeds, then scoop out the flesh and purée or mash until super smooth.

 

Don’t let any leftover purée go to waste! Try it in:
Pumpkin orzo
Warm pumpkin pie cocktail
Pumpkin hand pies
Pumpkin ale muffins
Pumpkin roll ups