Is Canned Pumpkin Really Made From Squash?

Recent rumors say canned pumpkin is actually a mix of more flavorful squash varieties. Find out the truth.

Is Canned Pumpkin Really Made From Squash? Photo by Anna_Pustynnikova / Shutterstock.com

Pumpkin pie lovers can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite recent claims to the contrary, the canned pumpkin used to make pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving is really made from pumpkins.

Phew.

Of course, this contradicts the following statement in this recent Food & Wine article, which originally appeared on MyRecipes.com, and sent pumpkin-lovers into a tizzy:

“Pumpkin puree is not pumpkin. It’s squash.”

The article claimed that even canned pumpkin labeled “100% pumpkin” is made from a “variety of winter squash (think butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and more)” because those squash varieties are more flavorful than pumpkins, which can be “fairly stringy and watery.” The article went on to say:

“What I’m telling you is, you’ve basically been eating butternut squash pie, squash bread, and drinking SQUASH FREAKING SPICE LATTES this entire time.”

It’s understandable that pumpkin lovers who read that article would be miffed or feel misled by the canned pumpkin industry. It’s probably similar to how Parmesan cheese lovers felt when it was revealed that grated Parmesan cheese is often infused with a wood pulp product (cellulose, a legal anti-clumping agent).

Fortunately, Snopes was on the case. The popular myth-busting website says most canned pumpkin is not a blend of other squash varieties. Instead, Snopes says that “as much as 90 percent of canned pumpkin sold in the U.S. and 85 percent worldwide is a proprietary cultivar known as a Dickinson pumpkin.”

Snopes notes that the Dickinson pumpkin is not as “photogenic” as the orange jack-o’-lantern types we typically think of when we talk about pumpkins, but it’s been deemed a pumpkin — not a squash — by agricultural trade groups.

According to Snopes, Nestle brand product Libby’s, the primary manufacturer of canned pumpkin, says:

Libby’s proudly uses 100 percent pumpkin in our Libby’s solid pack pumpkin. We do not use Hubbard squash, or other types of squash. In fact, Libby’s uses a specific cultivar of pumpkin called Dickinson. … Dickinson pumpkins are considered “the king” of eating pumpkins.

Are you a pumpkin pie fan? Share your comments — or even your recipe — below or on our Facebook page.

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