Many years ago we were blessed when some friends gave us several really nice Cushaw pumpkin seedlings. They started those seedling with seeds they had saved from their cushaw pumpkins the year before. Along with those seedlings they gave us a delicious pumpkin pie recipe. We planted them in our garden and they thrived. Every year since we have been saving seeds and growing our own cushaw pumpkins to make frozen pumpkin puree.
We use the puree to make that pumpkin pie and a few other pumpkin dishes. It is so nice to have a homegrown convenience food on hand.
How to Make and Freeze Pumpkin Puree in Mason Jars
Cushaws don’t look like ordinary pumpkins. They are not orange. They are long and have green and white stripes. I think they are technically considered a gourd but everyone calls them a pumpkin. You can use any variety of pumpkin or sweet gourd for your puree. I suggest a pie variety pumpkin as they are naturally sweeter and have better flavor than a field pumpkin. Another thing to consider is curing your pumpkins before preserving them. This will lead to a much sweeter, richer puree.
We love our pumpkin pie around here so we like to have plenty of puree ready to go whenever the hankering for one hits us!
Canning vs pureeing pumpkin
In the past, we have pressure canned our pumpkin puree. Several years ago, I did some research online and found out that canning pureed pumpkin is no longer considered a safe means of preserving pumpkin. They (whoever “they” are) have not established a safe canning length to be sure all of the thick puree reaches a high enough temperature for long enough to remove the risk of contamination.
It is safe to pressure can pumpkin cut into cubes but not pumpkin puree. With this new information we decided to start freezing our puree rather than canning it.
Prepare the pumpkin for pureeing and freezing
The first step is to wash and rinse the outsides of the pumpkins to be sure they are really clean and there is no dirt or contaminants on them before cutting into them.
Some pumpkins can be a bit tough to cut so use a good sharp knife and keep your fingers out of the way of the blade.
Secondly- cut the pumpkins in half (lengthwise if you are using and elongated or gourd style pumpkin).
Third- scoop the seeds and pulp out into a bowl. A ladle or an ice cream scoop works great for this.
Wait! Don’t throw those seeds away. Be sure to keep them so that you can save some to plant more pumpkins next year and roast some for a delicious and healthy snack for later.
The fourth step is to get the pumpkin nice and soft for puréeing. There are several methods that can be used to accomplish this. We have found our preferred method is baking them in the oven.
We have boiled pumpkins in the past but have found baking them works better for us. It is a much simpler and less messy method. Lay the pumpkin halves cut side down on large cookie sheets and bake them on the center rack at 350° for about an hour and twenty minutes. Smaller pumpkins need to bake for about an hour.
Once the pumpkins are tender and soft when poked with a fork, they are finished baking and ready to be removed from the oven.
After removing the pumpkins from the oven and allowing them to cool down it is time to remove the meat from the skins by scraping it into a large bowl.
Fifth- The meat of the pumpkins need to be pureed. You can use an immersion blender, a regular blender, food processor, or even a potato masher for this job.
Sixth- It is time to fill your jars with the puree. A canning funnel is a great tool to make filling the jars simple less messy. Quart size jars work great, be sure to leave over an inch of head space.
Freezing pumpkin puree in mason jars
You may be concerned about freezing in jars that are not labeled as freezer safe but I assure you that it can be done.
The key to avoiding breakage is it to be sure to leave enough headspace in the jar (at least an inch) to allow the liquid to expand as it freezes. The jars also need to be cold when put into the freezer. I cool mine in the fridge overnight before freezing. This has worked great in my experience! I have not had any jars break on me and I’ve been doing this for years.
While I cannot guarantee that your jars will not break, I have not had any breakage. The key is cooling your puree completely before freezing along with leaving an inch or more of head space in the jar.
Your frozen puree should stay good for use for at least 24 months.
I would not recommend canning puree as it is no longer considered safe to do so. You can however, can cubed pumpkin instead.
You will need to plan ahead and allow the pumpkin to thaw out first. You can do so by placing the jar in the fridge for 24-48 hours or by setting out on the counter for several hours.
You can definitely use store bought pumpkins for preserving. I find that homegrown pumpkins have a lot more flavor than store bought.
Yes! You can use whatever works best for you. Freezer bags, vacuum seal bags, freezer container, etc…. all work well for freezing pumpkin puree.