What’s in your canned pumpkin? Plus, how to make your own

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Pumpkin, Pumpkin everywhere! And that’s a good thing – packed full of vitamin C, zinc, potassium and magnesium it’s no wonder we reach for it recipes like Pumpkin Curry Soup, Pumpkin Muffins, Savory Pumpkin Souffle, Chocolate Pumpkin Custard, even Pumpkin Chili.  Plus, it’s an unlimited veggie on Phase 1 and Phase 3 (falls under winter squash) …and canned pumpkin makes it even easier to get your fall fix.

Luckily, canned pumpkin is usually just that—pureed pumpkin in a can. But check the ingredients to make sure: some brands sneak in cornstarch. And double-check to make sure you’re not picking up a can of that sugary, pre-fab “pumpkin pie mix” by accident.

Here are some pumpkin brands that are good to go:


Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin

Packed in BPA-free cans or Tetrapaks (like boxes of chicken broth), Farmer’s Market is a great choice.



Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin

Trader Joe’s is another great BPA-free brand.



Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin

Not organic or BPA-free, but still—nothing but pumpkin. No worries there. Libby’s actually uses its own special variety of pumpkin (called Dickinson pumpkin), which might explain why some cooks are diehard Libby’s fans.



365 Pumpkin (Whole Foods)

The can we checked didn’t say organic or BPA-free, but Whole Foods’ 365 brand is pure pumpkin.



Store brands

As long as it has one ingredient—pumpkin—you’re good to go. Kroger, Meijer, and Aldi all sell pure canned pumpkin under their own labels (and probably lots of other stores—those are just the labels we happened to check).

 Make your own

Or, you can buy yourself a pumpkin and make your own. Honestly, it’s just as easy as roasting any veggie (that’s really all you’re doing)—it just takes some time. Try those cool-looking heirloom pumpkins at the farmer’s market. Each variety will give you a slightly different flavor. Go for little pie pumpkins, not the humongous Jack o’ Lantern kind. (The little ones are bred for sweetness and flavor, while the big ones can turn out stringy and watery when you cook them.)

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

See, it’s as easy as 1-2-3-4. If you want to see it in pictures, check out this step-by-step how-to at The Pioneer Woman Cooks.


“Sugar” or “pie” pumpkins (as many as you like—you can do a bunch and freeze the extra puree)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut the pumpkins in half lengthwise. Scoop out the fibrous pulp and seeds.

3. Place the halves on a pan (cut-side up or down). Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

4. Scrape the pumpkin out of the skin into a food processor and puree it. Done!

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