I Just Found Out Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Pumpkin At All, And My Whole Life is Basically a Lie

September 21, 2016 | By | Comments (28)
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

 

My favorite season is closing in on us (and by closing in, I mean temperatures here in Alabama are still in the 90’s, but I’m sure fall is coming anyyy day now). Autumn, I love you–your cool weather, your clothes, your football players, oh, and especially your food.

I know you think you’ve been counting down to PSL-season for what feels like a lifetime, but I assure you that, as an editor for one of the largest food websites in the country, I’ve been prepping for much, much longer. We work well ahead (at least 4-6 months) creating seasonal packages and researching to spot upcoming trends before they hit, so I’m pretty sure I was celebrating Thanksgiving on July 4.

With months of researching and preparing for the fall, you’d think I would have discovered what I’m about to tell you before last week. Heck, as someone who spends the entirety of her workweek studying food, I should just innately know all of the things–right? Not so, my friends, not so.

Okay, I’ll get to the point. I found out something extremely disappointing and concerning this week that has made me rethink most everything in my life, so I’d like to share a little PSA with the class:

Pumpkin puree is not pumpkin. It’s squash.

Pumpkin puree: You know, the canned orange stuff that’s lining the supermarket walls right now? The stuff you use to make all your favorite fall desserts that’s labeled “100% pumpkin”?! Yes, well, it’s actually made from 100% not pumpkin. The mix is made from a variety of winter squash (think butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and more). Libby’s, the brand that produces about 85% of the country’s canned “pumpkin” filling, has actually developed a certain variety of squash that they grow, package, and distribute to supermarkets across the country–all the while fooling innocent, trusting consumers into believing they’re eating a pumpkin.

 

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

 

As it turns out, pumpkins can be fairly stringy and watery; certain varieties of winter squash make a richer, sweeter puree that works way better for packing the now-ambiguous flavor we all love into our favorite fall dishes. Additionally, the USDA is fairly lenient with gourd terminology in general, which is why it’s perfectly legal to label a food product as “pumpkin” when, in reality, it’s made from a different variety of squash. So it’s all good now that there’s an explanation, right? NO. It’s not.

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.

Here’s my thing: When all the gourd execs sat around the boardroom table and came to the conclusion that, “Dang, pumpkin just isn’t going to work,” why didn’t they just come right out with it and announce, “SQUASH IS THE NEW PUMPKIN!” just like when Neiman Marcus told us gingham was the new stripe?! (P.S. It wasn’t. That was also a lie, and I looked like I was wearing a tablecloth.) This is my hangup on the whole issue. Not that all of my favorite pumpkin things suddenly taste gross now that I know what they’re really made of–but I’m a trusting girl, and I was deceived. Is nothing sacred? If it’s no big deal to call a blend of squashes “pumpkin,” who’s to say anything is what it says it is? That’s something for you to chew on.

With that being said, if you want to discuss this further, you can find me brooding over marketing deception and my skewed perception of reality with a squash latte.

COMMENTS

  1. Rebecca Major

    I just found out about this a few days ago as well, and like you, I was not really happy to learn this. So…I promptly found a recipe so that I could make my own pumpkin puree. Basically, slice a sugar pumpkin in half, remove seeds and stringy pulp. Place, cut side down on a baking sheet. Put in a 375 degree oven and roast till tender- about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. (test by sticking a paring knife into the side. When there is no resistance, it is ready) Once it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and process in a food processor or blender until smooth. If pulp is watery you may need to scrapt it into a cheesecloth lined strainer and let sit for a few hours. That’s it. Sounds like a lot of work, but like you, I don’t like to be fooled and now it is the principle of the thing….

    September 21, 2016 at 11:54 pm
  2. karenmohd

    Reblogged this on Karen's Blog.

    September 22, 2016 at 10:24 am
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    September 22, 2016 at 3:27 pm
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    September 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm
  5. 인사동 둘레골 :: 인사동 맛집 한정식의 맛과 멋을 보여드립니다 Happy First Day of Autumn: It’s Officially Time to Inject Fall Flavor into Every Meal that Enters Your Mouth – 인사동 둘레골 :: 인사동 맛집 한정식의

    […] fall. Whip out your boots, scarves, jeans, and get ready to crunch through some dead leaves, sip on whatever spiced lattes, and dive headfirst into some apple pie. Ok, maybe that’s a little too much too soon, but […]

    September 24, 2016 at 1:15 am
  6. I Just Found Out Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Pumpkin At All, And My Whole Life is Basically a Lie

    […] This essay creatively seemed on MyRecipes.com. […]

    September 24, 2016 at 5:34 am
  7. Sonja’s Journey

    Sweet potato is the way to go!

    September 24, 2016 at 10:54 am
  8. Garry Noftz

    You do know that pumpkin is in the squash family. Why are you trying to re-write the truth?

    September 24, 2016 at 11:28 am
    • Nigel

      Apparently not., but why spend time researching a simple fact when outrage gets so many more clicks.

      September 27, 2016 at 5:39 pm
  9. kenhpics

    Emma, you’ve squashed my pumpkin season…

    (Funny article, too, BTW!)

    September 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm
  10. Bloody Black Rose
    September 25, 2016 at 7:52 pm
  11. Callie C (@MonkyChi83)
    September 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm
  12. Susan Lacek-Drolson

    I did not now this wow! I use real pumpkin when I make my pies I use canned “pumpkin” when I make my pumpkin rolls though.

    September 26, 2016 at 2:54 pm
  13. Marla Wade

    All I know is….I like it regardless of what it is.

    September 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm
  14. Cyndi Harp

    I’m with Maria. Personally I don’t care. I like the stuff in the can. Yes I already knew how to cook down my own fresh pumpkin. But after living so much in Hawaii and Okinawa I didn’t always have fresh pumpkins that were not ridiculously priced or poor quality. I’ll keep cans on hand..

    September 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm
  15. Heath Ashli LeFebvre

    Potato patato, … pumpkin squash, sweet potato yam, … pretty much the same thing. Dickinson Squash (which is what Libby uses) looks just like a pumpkin. Wiki “Pumpkin is a cultivar of a squash plant.”

    September 27, 2016 at 12:43 am
  16. Bruce Jasman

    That is why I grow my own pie pumpkins. A tip, wait until you are ready to bake and put the cooked pumpkin through a ricer before you pick the pumpkin. I freeze the result.

    September 27, 2016 at 11:17 am
  17. Patti Ireland

    wrong, it is pumpkin, just a specific type of pumpkin. http://www.snopes.com/canned-pumpkin-isnt-actually-pumpkin/
    WHAT’S TRUE: As much of 90 percent of pumpkin sold in the U.S. (and 85 percent worldwide) is a proprietary cultivar known as a Dickinson pumpkin, which are less photogenic than the type of pumpkins commonly used for display purposes.

    WHAT’S FALSE: The majority of canned pumpkin is not a blend of butternut and winter squashes.

    September 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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    September 29, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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    September 29, 2016 at 5:55 pm
  20. Phil Carta (@kairho)

    In most of the world, all varieties of squash are called pumpkin and they don’t have squash as a word at all. So it’s really not all that deceptive.

    September 30, 2016 at 6:10 pm
  21. Denise Roche

    Technically, pumpkin is any of numerous varieties of orange squash. It really doesn’t mean anything in particular except that it’s squash, so this is not a problem.

    September 30, 2016 at 9:51 pm
  22. […] week, I wrote an article challenging the veracity of canned pumpkin purée that inadvertently sparked a viral social media […]

    October 1, 2016 at 1:07 am
  23. Food News: October 1, 2016 | Williams-Sonoma Taste

    […] you know that the canned pumpkin purée you’re using to bake isn’t pumpkin at all? Turns out it’s actually a type of squash. […]

    October 1, 2016 at 9:30 am
  24. Amanda Stilbe

    I hate to say it but in Australia all of those varieties are called pumpkin, for us squash is a small yellow thing

    October 1, 2016 at 11:20 pm
  25. Friday Finds. Canned pumpkin isn't pumpkin??!! | Piano Pantry

    […] I just found out canned pumpkin isn’t pumpkin at all and my whole life is a lie. […]

    October 7, 2016 at 12:25 am
  26. b-jc

    I don’t know about what is sold in the stores in Alabama, but here in Texas, canned pumpkin says pumpkin on the ingredients. I have photo’s to prove it.

    October 16, 2016 at 6:11 pm
  27. Daniel Cheek

    @ Bloody Black Rose: Yes, the Libby’s can lists “PUMPKIN” as the sole ingredient, but…

    http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/CompliancePolicyGuidanceManual/ucm074635.htm

    November 9, 2016 at 5:18 pm

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