Are you considering preserving pumpkin or winter squash this fall? If so, you better check the date of your recipe. Since 1989, the USDA has made major changes in the process of preserving this delicious fall produce.
Home canning of pumpkins butter or mashed or pureed pumpkin is not recommended. The same is true for winter squash. According to USDA research, there is too much variation in the thickness, the acidity and water activity among pumpkin purees. Therefore it is hard to pin point a certain processing time & pressure amount to kill the potential of bacteria growth. Pumpkin and winter squash are low acid foods also, which support the growth of botulism if not processed correctly.
If you are still wanting to can pumpkin, the only safe way is to cube the pumpkin flesh. Do not mash or puree. The cubed pumpkin must also be pressured canned, not boiling water bath. For pints, it takes a long time, 55 minutes at 11 pounds pressure – so be aware of the time involved. For a specific recipe on canning cubed pumpkin, you can go to nchfp.uga.edu and click to canning. This site is the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
If you insist on making pumpkin butter, freeze it. Freezing is the easiest and quickest way to preserve pumpkin, and it yields the best quality product. You can also freeze winter squash mashed or puree. For freezing instructions, you can also visit the National Food Preservation Website mentioned previously. Of course, the easiest option, you can buy commercially prepared pumpkin butter.
Pumpkin requires special attention to preparation and processing. Use excellent sanitation in handling the fresh or preserved pumpkin. Do not let cut pumpkin sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours during preparation prior to preserving. There are no properly researched procedures to recommend for home canning of pumpkin butters or pickled pumpkin products such as salsas, chutneys and relishes – such recipes you try should be served immediately or stored under refrigeration at all times.
Enjoy the scenery with pumpkins, the baking with pumpkins . . . but think safety when planning to preserve pumpkin.
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