Canning 101: Why Pumpkin Butter Can’t Be Canned

pumpkins

This time of year, a canner’s fancy turns to pumpkins. Tis the season for all things round, orange and squashy, after all. However, as you start searching for recipes for home canned pumpkin butter from reputable sources, you’re going to find yourself disappointed. You see, both the USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation are going to tell you the same thing. Don’t do it.

I’m sure there are more than a few of you out there saying to yourself, “but I’ve been making and water bath canning pumpkin butter for years!” And it’s true, many years ago, there were USDA-approved recipes for pumpkin butter. Unfortunately, the rules of canning are not a static canon and so, in 1989 the USDA changed their recommendations and the NCHFP followed suit. No home canning for pumpkin butter, not even in a pressure canner.

The reasons why homemade pumpkin butter isn’t recommended are several. When cooked down into a butter, pumpkin flesh becomes quite dense, making it difficult for the heat produced in a canner to penetrate fully through the contents of the jar. This means that even in a pressure canner, the interior of the jar may not reach the 240 degrees needed to kill those pesky botulism spores.

Additionally, pumpkin and all other winter squash are a low-acid vegetables, meaning that without careful treatment, they could potentially be a friendly environment in which botulism spores might grow into their toxic adult state. In tests, it’s been found that the pH of pumpkin has a fairly wide range, meaning that it’s not possible to offer a basic acidification ratio as there is for other borderline and low acid foods.

The good news is that pumpkin butter can be frozen and also keeps quite well in the fridge, so it doesn’t have to be entirely off the menu. I’ve also been pondering whether one could make a an apple-pumpkin butter that would be high enough in acid to be safe for canning, but would contain enough pumpkin to be sufficiently autumnal. I may do a bit of playing around, to see if I can get somewhere close to the flavor I’d like to eat.

If you’re curious to read more about the safety hazards of canning pumpkin butter and other squash purees, click here to download the PDF that was the primary source for this post.

Related Posts:

Posted in

268 responses to “Canning 101: Why Pumpkin Butter Can’t Be Canned”

  1. This post came at a good time. I was wondering if I could can my pumpkin into butter…now it seems that this isn’t an option. But a few questions: Is the texture of a pumpkin butter alright after freezing? and do you know how long it would last once defrosted? Thanks!

  2. I’ve been making pumpkin butter for several years now without any problems. I water bath process the jars for 30 mins but then I do store them in the frig just to be safe for the same reasons you listed. I also label the jars with “keep refrigerated at all times” & remind everyone i give them to to do so. Although in reality once I give someone a jar it doesnt stay unopened for long anyway then it goes in the frig with all the other open jars of jam. I have always wondered though what the difference is with the thickness of pumpkin butter compared to all the other kinds of fruit butter? I mean isnt that the point of fruit butter to begin with, that its very thick? Also I wonder does the USDA recommendation apply to all forms of pumpkin because it doesn’t really specify. I can see how if you use fresh pumpkin the acid levels can vary but what about canned? I always use canned pumpkin just for convenience & consistency … the canned pumpkin has already been heat treated to be shelf stable to begin with so why is it “unsafe” to heat it again & then can it (again). Oh well, I guess as long as I have enough frig space I’ll keep making it like I have been.

    • Heather, I really think that the difference between pumpkin butter and all other fruit butters is the fact that the flesh is low in acid, while all other fruits from which you make butters are high acid. Additionally, I have found that there remains a viscosity in apple/pear/peach butter that doesn’t exist with pumpkin butters.

      Canned pumpkin isn’t acidified, so its acid level probably varies just like fresh. The reason commercially canned pumpkin is safe is that it is heat treated to extremely high temperatures during processing. It’s far higher than anything you can achieve in a home kitchen. But, as soon as you open the can, the virtues of that heat treatment are gone, and it’s just like any other pumpkin.

      • Thank you for the information. I was just wondering this very thing since fruit butters are close to the same viscosity as pumpkin butter. I had wondered about adding lemon too but do not have a pH tester. I know it used to be considered safe to can and most of the time would probably be fine but “most of the time” and “probably” are just not worth it to me.

        I have a jar a friend gave me. Guess I will throw it out. There is so much misinformation out there.

  3. I find this information very interesting. I know of a business in Georgia, a apple Orchard,Mercier that gets a huge business crowd year around and has several canned products, one being Pumpkin Butter. I have bought this myself and it was wonderful. Mercier of Blue Ridge, Georgia is on the website and not only has constant walk in business but does mail out. They must have found a way to safely can their Pumpkin Butter. http://www.mercierorchard.com

      • Simply check with them if they have an FDA-registered process for their pumpkin butter. I was certified to process low-acid/acidified foods here at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm. It’s not rocket science, but it does require keen observance of FDA laws regarding the processing of these types of food. The methods are no secret. Probably the only thing in your kitchen that you don’t have to produce safe pumpkin butter is a pH meter. I’m assuming the only reason the FDA doesn’t recommend home kitchens making this stuff is that they can’t force you to go to a class to learn about safe processing since you aren’t selling the stuff.

  4. Is pickled pumpkin still ok to do? My husband is looking forward to pickled pumpkin but as a new canner I’m now nervous about the botulism.

  5. This is the time of year when my husband begs for Paula Deen’s Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie … would love to try pumpkin apple butter, see if it would fit the bill in her recipe.

  6. I have the same idea about the apple-pumpkin butter. Afterall, apples are a fall fruit, perhaps a half and half ratio may be enough to kill thos botulisum spores… and with the added acid of fresh squeezed orange juice, i predict the finished product may be quite tastey!

  7. I have been pouring over Pumpkin info all day and I am still confused. Most of the recipes I have seen get cooked for hours with a fairly high sugar content which raises the boiling temperature. I find it hard to believe that anything survives 3-4 hours in a crockpot.

    If botulism does survive 3-4 hours in the crock pot, what would happen if I pressure cooked the pumpkin before I made pumpkin butter? Starting with raw pumpkin and then pressure cooking at 15 pounds for 15 minutes should cook it through and kill everything at the same time?

    • The only way that that would work was if you pressure cooked the pumpkin and then were able to keep it in a sterile environment. If you cook it in a pressure cooker and then take it out and expose it to the air, it can be contaminated all over again. Additionally, length of time plays no role in killing botulism spores. They are only killed at 240 degrees or higher. You can’t achieve that in a slow cooker, even with additional sugar.

    • Even cooking dried pinto beans in a crock pot isn’t recommended because the temperature doesn’t reach high enough to kill the toxins in the beans. Apparently, unless cooked properly, there are toxins in them that can poison you. I’ve cooked them in a crock pot for years with no problems. Scary that I never knew this (nor did anyone I know) but thankful there were no problems.

      I’ve found the USDA comes up with these guidelines that go completely against what’s been working for 100+ years. If people haven’t been poisoned for over a century, why would they now? I’m not suggesting going against their rules but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. However, I still can pickles the old way because they get mushy in a pressure canner and I don’t like soft pickles. I guess I still believe ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. 😉

  8. I have a bunch of sugar pie pumpkins sitting on my counter right now, just waiting to be made into butter. Do you know how long they last in the fridge? Until Thanksgiving? (Hope!) Putting anything new in my freezer requires tetris-like manipulation at this point in the season.

    • Well, if you process them in order to get a seal (helps in refrigerated preservation) and use plenty of sugar, they’ll last at least a month (if not longer) in the fridge.

  9. There is a Greek recipe for pickled pumpkin that I’ve been meaning to try for years. I’ve finally grown enough pumpkins to make a serious batch. Obviously we’re dealing with vinegar here, but I was wondering if anyone’s made pickled pumpkin before? What’s the texture? What do you use it for? Antipasti? Pies? As a side dish?

  10. Well, drat. I’ve got to say I’ve been wanting to make and can pumpkin butter, but you’ve convinced me not to do it. Our freezer is full to overflowing, but I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for the great information, as always!

  11. Many websites (this one included) cite the “why not home canning” language about density, acidity, water activity and whatever else. But no one explains the commercial canner magic that makes their commercially canned pumpkin butter safe. We follow this rule simply because it is a rule?

  12. After this post the other day, something was tickling at the back of my brain because I actually pressure canned cubed pumpkin last year and I was pretty sure it was a reliable cookbook recipe. I did a little digging and, sure enough, the Ball Complete Book of Home Canning (the thick one…not the Blue Book) has a recipe for cubed pumpkin or butternut in water. Apparently, cubing it produces an even enough density that they felt comfortable publishing the recipe.

    Incidentally, I haven’t cracked them open yet. They seem to have held-up well but have discolored a bit to a dark brown instead of bright orange.

    In addition, last year was my “maiden voyage” (if you will) for canning and I did make canned pumpkin butter from a recipe I found on the Internet (I know, I know…reliable sources and all). I had seen the “don’t can pumpkin puree” warning from the Feds but I just assumed it didn’t apply to butter, which has a ridiculously high sugar content and is cooked a very long time. Sugar is also a great preservative (many buggies can’t survive in a high sugar environment).

    So what to do with the sugar pumpkins sitting on my counter and all those family and friends begging for a jar of butter this year?? Freezing is out and constant refrigeration is not an option since these will likely be Christmas gifts, sitting under a tree or in the car for a bit.

    I think I’m going to chance it, personally, and take a few extra precautions using some sound food science to guide me. My thoughts:

    1) As I mentioned, sugar is a good preservative and butters have such a high concentration, that should help. Butters are cooked for hours, probably covering all your bases *except* botulism.

    2) I think I’ll pressure can it this year just to be extra safe and I won’t use anything bigger than an 8oz jar. I’ll also make sure there’s plenty of room between the jars for better heat absorption.

    3) I think I’ll try adding a few teaspoons of acid (lemon juice) at the end of cooking. It may change the flavor a bit, but a little extra insurance is probably a good thing.

    4) As a triple safeguard, I’ll be extra careful about boiling the jars and equipment and keeping it out of the air as much as possible until the jars are closed.

    Mind you, I’m no professional. These are my personal feelings on the matter, but I feel comfortable with the extra precautions and the food science behind them. You should always use your own good judgment.

    Incidentally, Marisa, if you happen to do that recipe with part apples, I’d love to see it too! I just may see if I can get my hands on some PH test strips and see how bad the taste is if I add enough lemon juice to get to an acceptable level. I’m just curious…

    • Lisa and Justin, I am sure you know more than the pros but please don’t send me any. I remember a few years ago, everyone in the family of 7 died of botulism except the 2 week old baby who was too young to eat big people food. No way is that risk worth it.

    • For cloristridium botulinum, acid OR very high temperatures are the fix. This bacterium can survive nicely in sugar. This is why ancient methods of lacto-fermentation (pickling) are relatively safe. C-bot cannot survive below 4.6 ph.

  13. Apple-pumpkin butter sounds divine!

    I admit that I am awfully new to canning, but it strikes me that with the addition of apples and a healthy dose of lemon juice you could counterbalance the low acidity without too much of a problem.

    However, because of the density issue I would only can it in the Ball Elite 8oz jar (or something similar in design). The fact that it is so wide and flat would make it a lot easier for heat to permeate through the entire jar of apple-pumpkin butter. And hopefully, the addition of the apples would also make the butter less dense thus making it less of an issue anyway.

    • “it strikes me that with the addition of apples and a healthy dose of lemon juice you could counterbalance the low acidity without too much of a problem.”

      You’re right. Just be sure you achieve a pH of 4.6 or lower.

  14. I keep seeing recipes for pumpkins/squash butter that call for orange or apple and lemon juice. Seems like this would add the acidity required? I was going to make some butternut squash butter for gifts but I think I”ll do a bit more sleuthing before I embark upon that project. Till then I’m on to a pear-vanilla butter, photos and story should be up soon on http://www.storiesformysister.wordpress.com !

  15. So I was looking at Pumpkin Butter jars (8 and 16 oz) in a store and saw that most listed citric acid as an ingredient. Anyone using this as an acidifier in their home canning?? I have some on hand (from wine making) but clueless as to how much to use. Has anyone sent butter samples to lab for testing?? Anybody using a pH meter at home to test their butter recipes??

  16. Well poopie! I guess I will stick to storing some of my butter in the freezer and giving the rest away to be used right away. 🙁

    A positive note is that I guess it makes all the more enjoyable to eat when it’s purely seasonal………. Something to look forward to every year. 🙂

  17. My Grandmother always told me when making apple butter or even pumpkin butter … I must always use vinegar in the recipe. This is for safety reasons … Plus you never taste it … Once the final product is finished. It has always worked for our family. Note: She also never canned pumpkin butter … It was always frozen or placed in the frig. My grandmother was in her nineties and never knew anything about the above USDA recommendations. She was from the old school and this is how she taught me when I was just a little girl.

  18. I’ll just use my pre-1989 Blue Ball canning book and can the way my mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother did in 1988 (and yes, they were all alive and canning in 1988). I grew up with canned meat and vegetables, all from a water bath canner, that the government says is unsafe since 1989.

    • The only way to definitely determine whether that recipe is safe or not would be to test the pH of the finished product. There are instructions as to how to do that in Stephen Palmer Dowdney’s two books, Putting Up and Putting Up More.

  19. I was wondering if you can boiling water process the SMALLEST jars, since it would surely get up to a high enough temp? Is that a silly question? I hope not, as I’ve really been noodling on how to can the pumpkin butter. I used to do it years ago, and want to follow the new guidelines but am not sure if there are any ways around it….
    Is freezing it the only option now, regardless of size jar?

  20. I read the ingredients on Williams-Sonoma’s pumpkin butter and it contains lemon juice not apple juice. Would this make it acidic enough to be safe to make at home?

    • Nope. Chances are that Williams Sonoma processes their pumpkin butter under more heat and pressure than can be achieved in a home kitchen. Your pumpkin butter would have to be at least 1/4 lemon juice to be safe (and that is just an educated guess. Don’t quote me on it). That much acid would totally negate the flavor of the pumpkin.

  21. Any ideas on how long the Pumpkin butter will stay safe if I do put it in small jars? All my experience with cooking has proven that if it’s delicious, it will be tasted and eaten and gone within 3-5 days. SOOO if I want to give it out to friends and family, how long can they keep it in a refrigerator before they “die” of contamination? Two weeks? A month? Can I put it in a jar at all or does adding it to a container that’s not for freezing immediately lend it to botulism?

    I really just want it to be safe for a few weeks on the rare chance that its not opened TODAY- any ideas on that?

    • It keeps safely in the refrigerator for several weeks. It can also be frozen for months at a time. The botulism issue only comes into play when it is sealed into an airtight environment and kept at room temperature.

  22. I was just wondering if I could freeze pumpkin butter in canning jars or do I need to buy freezer containers also do I freeze it while it is still warm or wait until it is cold. Forgive me but I am new to canning etc.

    • Debra, you can freeze pumpkin butter in jars as long as you leave plenty of headspace for expansion. Wide mouth jars are better for freezing than regular mouth ones. You can put the pumpkin butter into the jars while it is still warm, but do not place them in the freezer until the butter has cooled to room temperature.

      • I would have to disagree with leaving the butter to cool before freezing. Your suggestion is to pack the jars while the pumpkin is still warm. This is where botulism starts. The jars aren’t pressure canned/sealed and the pumpkin isn’t over 240* so the potential is still there. It’s just like refrigerating leftovers. Food shouldn’t sit out to cool before it’s refrigerated.

        • Botulism cannot develop in oxygenated environments. So provided you don’t seal the jar, botulism will not begin to grow there. I recommend waiting to put it into the freezer until cool so that you don’t overwork your freezer.

  23. glad I stoped by to see what is up with pumpkin butters. just starting up my own jam,jelly business in Idaho,boy making that butter could of killed my business. I have a juicer and have used it to make jellys. can I combine the pumpkin juice with apple or orange and make a jam or jelly using the water bath method? if anyone knows let me know. thank you BEARPAW JAMS

  24. I would also like to know if any one out there has tried a pumpkin jelly.
    I am also into canning jellies and jams. I am glad to know about the pumpkin butter
    because I was going to can some tomorrow

  25. […] But for other foods which are lower in acid content (like most vegetables), a boiling water bath is not enough to avoid danger. Instead, the jars must be processed for quite a bit longer in a pressure cooker, which can reach temperatures much higher than the boiling water bath, high enough to kill the botulism bacteria. But even this isn’t enough for some foods, which due to the variability of the acid content or the density of the food can’t be safely canned at home (e.g. pumpkin butter). […]

  26. Wow, I have only been canning a few years now and only jams and butters, but I canned pumpkin butter last year from a recipe, and used a steam canner to boot! I must have made 40 pints of butter last year and gave away most of them as gifts. Looks like no more canning pumpkin butter for me from now on! Time to start doing better research.
    But as far as the steam canning, I have the jars come out so hot its unreal, and the caps seal almost immediately as I take off the cover. I haven’t had a issue yet with it but after reading all of this it makes me consider the hot water bath now, although I do like how the steam canner heats up with less power waste than the hot water bath. One more question though, I am looking to purchase a steam juicer and would like some input on that item if possible as well. Thanks for all the info here, glad I stumbled upon it

  27. I am also researching how to make pumpkin butter that is safe for public sale. I was advised today that I must get the pH level below 4.0 in order for it to be acceptable. I’m also going to try the apple-pumpkin butter recipe that uses apple cider, brown sugar, and applesauce. I have a pH tester and will post the resulting pH level once I get a test batch made.

  28. Thank you for this. I was just about to turn over 60 pounds of pumpkins into butter with the hopes of selling it at our Farmer’s Market. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Do you know how long you can store the butter frozen?

  29. I’m not taking any chances. I am a Master Certified Canner and believe that the rules set down by the USDA are for a reason, my health. I don’t want to take a chance. “B” is a nasty horrible bacteria. It has a high mortality rate. No, I’ll freeze my pumpkin butter. Thanks for the information.

  30. So OK… I haven’t canned in a few years, and only did tomatoes, pickles and such when I did do it… in a nutshell you are saying that IF you were to safely can pumpkin butter, as long as the ph level is below 4.6 (albeit by adding 1/2 apples, apple cider, lemon or whathaveyou) it would be OK!! Sounds like a good experiment!! 🙂

  31. Just so you know, pumpkins and winter squashes are, botanically speaking, fruits, not vegetables. Anything that is the fruiting body of a plant is a fruit. Things where you eat the leaves (kale, spinach, lettuce), stalks (asparagus, rhubarb) or seeds (beans, peas, corn) or roots (beets, carrots, potatoes) are vegetables.

  32. Marissa, where can I get a ph tester. to check the pumkinbutter I made. The recipe does have applesauce and applecider and lemon juice in it. Thanks G.

  33. Well if we have been doing something safely for years and the USDA says not to it doesn’t mean shit to me, seriously. Oh so we have been doing it for a few hundred years with no ill effects and the USDA now says not to and we are supposed to agree that, “the rules of canning are not a static canon”.

    That is the dumbest statement I have ever heard in recent times. Seriously! So the USDA says, do you know what else the USDA says? How about GMO foods are perfectly safe and have no need of testing. So go ahead and trust the fricken USDA in conflict of two or more centuries of fact if you want to be the governments bitch if that is what you want to be.

    • Perhaps the key word is GMO . If one uses GMO pumpkins in their Pumpkin butter , it may not be shelf stable after home canning. Ahh the wonders of progress. I say go NON GMO !!!

      • USDA also says that the radiation that is now used to treat meat before sale is perfectly safe, so is the growth hormones they use to feed chickens, cows, etc. I wonder if that has anything to do with our kids being bigger, enter puberty at a much earlier age, alter behavior. It is not just the meat that these hormones are found in. You still have the milk, eggs, cheeses that come from the animals. And the list goes on and on and on…..

  34. Does not matter if it does not mean * to you are not. You are entitled to kill yourself any way you see fit. Not looking to start a flame war, just trying to clarify. The issue is not botulism, not other food poisonings that cause a little tummy ache. Botulism kills, period. It is relatively rare, so does not kill often, but when it does it takes out whole families. You want to run the risk, then fine, go ahead and risk your self and let Darwinism take its course. USDA recommendations are not draconian and to deny you your rights, they are to try to keep you from killing others without their knowledge of your poor practices and to provide the information to those who wish to make informed choices.

    Thank you to the author and other informed readers who provided the good explanation for the rule. I actually found the USDA basic write-up deficient in reason for the rule.

  35. It seems that this comes up for you at this time every year, but did you ever come up with a good pumpkin apple butter recipe for canning? I’d love to try it. Thanks for all the good information!

  36. I cannot freeze anymore food- we are bursting with two ful freezers AND my husband hopes to get a deer. I make pumpkin chutney and pumpkin pear and cranberry chutney. I use the basic recipe from Putting food by which is plenty acidic. Chutneys and picles are acidic by nature. I have made the wonderful apple zucchini butter in Costenbader’s Preseving the Harvest. It too has vinegar added and I would think that could be used for a butter recipe.It is savory , however. Perfect for turkey sandwiches or cheddar cheese.
    I have squashes and winter luxury pie pumpkins that are not hardening in this moist weather. I need to process them. I am thinking that a cranberry pumpkin butter would be very acidic. Boiled down cider could help get a nice gloss to the final product. I also have seen pumpkin marmalade recipes . Have you tried them? I will pressure cook quarts – I am used to having pumpkin soup all winter long. I cannot lose that harvest!

  37. Question: To all of you who canned pumpkin… on Saturday, I canned pumpkin. Today, their seals popped. I’ve created the perfect environment for botulism to occur b/c I didn’t allow enough space in the jar or heat the low acidic pumpkin hot enough after it was canned. Since the pumpkin has just begun to expand, if I boil this pumpkin for 20 min., could I kill all of the spores, then freeze and reuse this pumpkin? I’m even wondering if putting it on high in my crockpot overnight, then freezing it in the morning… thoughts?

  38. Ok this is a little to late I just put a pie pumpkin in the oven to roast it so I can make pumpkin butter because I have a lot of customers asking for it. I am getting mixed reviews not only here but on other sites about canning pumpkin butter. I found several recipes that say to add 1/3 cup lemon juice to the recipe. When I make pies I usually pull the pumpkin straight from the oven, puree it and then bake it after adding everything to it. This is the first on pumpkin butter but I was going to treat it like any other fruit/veggie I have canned. Which is anything thing that has low acid add lemon juice to it( lets face it I put lemon juice in everything), I can my extremely hot fruits and veggie ( I know cause I have gotten second degree burns from them splashing up from the pot) and process everything in a water bath for 25 minutes just to be safe. I am hoping doing this it will be safe.

    • Melissa, it is not safe to can pumpkin butter using any method. You cannot just hope it will be safe. If your customers are demanding it, make it as a refrigerator-only product. You cannot treat it like every other thing you’ve canned. Seriously, don’t do it.

    • Melissa ~

      I would not hesitate to make pumpkin butter as you describe. If you’ve baked the pumpkin at 350 degrees, you have killed any innate botulism. If you are clean and sanitary in the rest of the process, and everything is as hot as it can be, the butter, jars, etc, you should not have a problem.

      • Folks, once again, I have to beg to differ. Just because you put something in a 350 degree oven doesn’t mean that the actual product reaches 350 degrees. Baking does not kill botulism spores. The only way to dependably elevate temperatures high enough to kill botulism spores is to do so with a pressure canner. However, it has been found that because pumpkin butter is so dense, even when canned in a pressure canner, the heat doesn’t reliably penetrate to the center of the jars. So you can’t reliably can pumpkin butter in any fashion. If you are using lemon juice to elevate acidity, you must check the product with a pH meter in order to ensure that you’ve reached those safe levels. Seriously, I don’t recommend this.

        • Ok What I am going to say on this issue is that I bake my pumpkins at 400* for 2 hours so that they are nothing but mush and the skins come off very easy. Then I run the mush thru my food strainer and then return it to the stove again and heat it up once move. I use a thermomater and I can tell you that in the middle of that pan it never reads under 275*. And then I make my pumpkin butter. I also add lemon juice just to be on the safe side. SO while I understand that as a whole everyone is saying do not do it. THere are ways that you can make sure that there are no spores.

          • This is still not safe. There’s no way to guarantee that any present botulism spores are all killed. It’s best not to gamble with this sort of thing.

            • I have been canning pumpkin butter for over 15 years and never had any problems. I scrub the outside of the pumpkin with a mild bleach solution, rinse well and let dry. I then peel pumpkin, cut it in chunks, puree in food processor, put in in 16 at roaster pan with 1qt water & 1/2 cup lemon juice and cook for 24 hours. From that I make the pumpkin butter. I also wash all utensils in hot bleach water then run them thru the dishwasher. So far I havehad no problems.

            • that same logic can be applied to every single thing made at home. its called mitigating the risk. there is a very low probability that it will contain botulism spores. the government has a duty to warn you and strongly recomend not doing it because a ton of people do not know how to make it reasonably safe.

              • Actually, I’d say the government has no duty to protect us from ourselves. And if it stopped trying we’d no longer have to endure constant warnings about the horrific dangers of things people have been doing safely since forever.

      • You have killed all the botulism by baking it for so long at such a high temp. If you dont add spores to it after that….you wont have any in it.

    • I have been making and canning pumpkin butter for years. I add lemon juice, I make sure the pumpkin butter is very hot, the 1/2 pint jars are very hot and the lids are very hot and I water bath it for 25 to 30 minutes. I have never had a problem, neither has my Mom. The USDA recommended it for years, then all of a sudden changed their minds. I still do it. Like I said, I have NEVER had a problem. You just have to make sure everything is very hot and you process it 25 to 30 minutes.

      • Don’t forget, the USDA also made all restaurants get rid of their wooden cutting boards in a mad frenzy, without doing much research at all, only to find out that they were perfectly safe after doing research.

        The USDA, also in a mad frenzy, passed laws saying that all apple cider must be pasteurized (with extremely few exceptions) because a child got salmonella from un-pasteurized apple cider. But alas, once again, after actually doing research it was found the child got it from lettuce. The damage to local apple orchards was already done and many have since gone out of business because the mass hysteria was supported by the USDA without ANY research and the laws on pasteurization remain (lord forbid they put as much media attention into their mistake than they did the frenzy).

    • if you are making it to sell, BY LAW, you have to adhere to USDA/UCHFP regulations. if its for yourself them by all means risk your life so you can store it outside the fridge. when you start risking others is when the law steps in and tells you no. also do you really want to risk sending one of your customers to the hospital? just tell them to refrigerate it. put it on the label and if they dont its on their end not yours.
      i am also trying to find a mix that keeps the flavor yet takes away the density. but i might just have to settle keeping a few jars in the fridge for the next couple of months.

  39. I am using manufacturer’s canned pumpkin to make my pumpkin butter. Using a pressure canner, is it still unsafe to can pumpkin butter?

    • It doesn’t matter what variety of pumpkin you use. Pumpkin butter is not safe for canning whether it was made from fresh pumpkin or canned.

      • I am really not one familiar with pumpkin or apple butter. I do not want to preserve it, I only
        want to refrigerate it the day before so I can use it the next day. How do I store it for this purpose

  40. I baked my pumpkin, and now making a butter. I was…actually am in the process of canning. I guess i will take the jars out and put in the frig.
    I was planning on shipping the butter to family. I guess thats not a good idea.
    Is it possible to get sick of the butter if it is not continually in the frig? Can i keep in my frig and just handout to people?

    • It’s fine if you keep it refrigerated, as the temperature will inhibit the growth of any botulism spores into the botulism toxin.

  41. Just a thought…manufacturers (ball jars potentially in this case) are all about reputation and liabilities….I’ve made it for years and have not killed anyone, nor made them sick. It’s a tradition for my for family and they LOVE it. Prior to that I bought it at a local apple farm and never got sick. Hmmm odds seem pretty good. Companies cannot afford that .5% that did not get the sanitation right…be true to yourself … 🙂

  42. so has anyone found a recipe with apple that may help? I found a few recipes online with apple but is it just something im going to
    have to keep in the fridge?

  43. So, I can still use the cold pack method to seal the jars nicely, and as long as it stays refrigerated it should be ok?

  44. Thanks for the info! How long will the pumpkin butter keep in the refrigerator or freezer? Also, does the freezer affect the consistency?

    • If it is well packaged, it will be good for 2-3 weeks in the fridge and 6-9 months in the freezer. Things do lose some moisture in the freezer, so it will get a little bit thicker and stickier over time.

      • If you place the butter in a mason jar(smaller ones will freeze perfectly fine) there is absolutely zero moisture lost and in a medium to large freezer, will keep much longer than 6-9 months.

  45. Found your post first when I searched pumpkin butter recipe for canning. I’ve studied microbiology in college (my major). When I saw there was a possible fluctuation of pH in processing, I knew immediately it would be a breeding ground for bacteria. The amount of acid that would have to be added to prevent bacterial growth would make the finished product taste horrible.

    Thanks for the new regulations regarding processing of winter squashes!

  46. …just a random thought…
    Has anyone thought of using a microwave to bring the pumpkin butter to temp before canning or is it still a question of acidity?
    THANKS in advance!!

  47. I cooked some apples in butter and brown sugar then I water bathed them. Since I cooked,them in butter will they go bad? I cooked them 2 days ago will they still be good if I put them in the frig?

  48. While searching for a recipe to can pumpkin butter I am now finding that we aren’t supposed to can mashed/pureed pumpkin at all!! Not even in a pressure canner. Since when? I know they insist now you can do it in hot water bath event though that’s how most of our Grandmothers did it but now not even in a pressure canner. That’s nonsense.
    http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_can_pump.pdf

  49. Ok, im new at canning ( some things) but what i dont undetstand is, if youcan do pumpkin cubes, what is the difference if you can puree?

    • It’s an issue of density. Pumpkin cubes are less dense than pumpkin puree, so the heat of the canner is better able to penetrate and kill the botulism spores.

      • Are you working for some gov office? If not who? My mom canned pumpkin and we are still alive. I cooked my pumpkin for over 24 hours on 250 degrees. It is now in the oven to cook for two hours at 350 degrees before being canned in a pressure cooker? I have added some Apple cider vinegar to the pumpkin. Since this is being stirred numerous times why can’t I can it?

        • Mary Sue, I don’t work for a government body of any kind. I am just trying to offer the safest and most up-to-date canning information available. The science indicates that there is a small risk associated with canning pumpkin. You can do whatever you want, but because of the risk, I cannot recommend it.

          • Can someone tell me why we cannot make pumpkin butter using a canning process, when Dickinson’s makes pumpkin butter(citric acid added) and Libby’s and everyone else makes CANNED pumpkin? Sorry if I sound stupid but I want to know how they do it if we are not supposed to.

            • Bill, I’ve added this question repeatedly in the comments section of this blog post. Essentially, commercial manufacturers have more sophisticated heating and testing equipment than is possible to obtain for home use.

  50. I was going to send pumpkin butter to relatives. What if I packed frozen pumpkin butter and shipped them. And upon arrival give instructions to refridgerate. ?

  51. What if you make an apple butter with a smaller portion of canned pumpkin added, say 8c apples, 2c. pumpkin and then add cider vinegar to the recipe? Wouldn’t these proportions and additional acidity make it safe? It seems like there has to be a way to do it to make it safe to can.

  52. I buy pumpkin butter every Feb, when i go to TN, and it is canned and on a shelf. And it is homemade. Ive been buying it for the last 3 years now, and actually still have some in my fridge from my last trip, and its still good. And no one that has eaten it has gotten sick.

      • Don’t get me wrong…I am very cautious….my grandmother canned everything to include chickens, fruits, vegetables, ketchup…you name it. No one died…she lived to be 87…..

        • With all due respect, that doesn’t make the practice safe, that makes her lucky. You can cartwheel in and out of traffic hundreds of times and never get hurt, but that doesn’t make that safe either. All it takes is once where your timing is off, and you end up in the hospital or worse. There is no way to make this process safe for home canners. You can neither reliably get the pumpkin to be acid enough to kill off the spores or hot enough all the way through to do it. If there’s botulism in there and it’s not killed off, it will grow and release the toxin, which could paralyze or kill before you know what happened. Botulism is not that common, but it is deadly, so why risk it?

        • The health risk when canning high acid foods is non-existent. Nothing can grow in those preserves that could do you immediate bodily harm.

  53. LOL! Poor you repeating yourself over and over! Why don’t you just can pumpkin with all the spices you need…When your ready to use as butter, toss it in the blender! You got your shelf stable pumpkin that you can ship out to people and everyone is happy ! I wouldn’t mind throwing it in the blender for a few seconds if it was something someone made for me!

  54. Lol, this is kind of a funny thread… ITS NOT SAFE PEOPLE! Just because someone hasn’t gotten sick, doesnt mean they WONT get sick. All canning recipes must be approved – you can boil that pumpkin in lemon juice and it STILL won’t be safe. Save your time canning and throw it in the deep freeze! I have both pumpkin and apple butters in my freezer and they thaw beautifully.

    • not correct, it being safe is a matter of levels of risk. you can reduce the risk by doing alot of things to mitigate that risk. the government has said it is not “safe” under any circumstances to avoid questions and stupid people not using their brain. If you can anything at home you run the risk of having botulism in it. driving a car is not safe but you have a seat belt and airbags….

  55. Hello Marisa!

    I would like to freeze some pumpkin butter, what do you recommend for storing. Is it safe to store it in Bernardin canning jars to be thawed and used as needed? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • It’s perfectly safe to freeze pumpkin butter. Just make sure you freeze it in straight sided jars and that you defrost it slowly so that you don’t shock the jars.

  56. If a person uses commercially canned pumpkin, which has been processed to kill the botulism spores, would it be safe to water bath can pumpkin butter?

    • Unfortunately, it does not matter if it’s been previously pressure canned. It will still be too dense for the heat to penetrate and kill off any bacteria. And botulism spores can be introduced once the jars are opened. It’s really just not safe.

  57. I have never canned. I have made pumpkin butter over the years that has pectin in it, and refrigerated for up to 3 weeks according to recipe. Today I made some and actually sealed my jars by putting them in boiling water for 10 minutes and letting stay in pot for 5 more minutes. I refrigerated after cooling. They are sealed. Now this may be stupid question, but would it be safe from botulism as long as I eat it before 3 weeks and it is refrigerated. Does the botulism grow only over time?

  58. So Marisa, if I’m understanding you correctly, you are saying that it’s okay to can pumpkin butter as long as you add enough butter first?

  59. I was going to repackage commercial pumpkin butter in small Ball jars to give out as gifts. This is ok, right, since the pumpkin butter has already been processed commercially? How long should. I steam it after repackaging?

    • It is still unsafe. It doesn’t matter that the butter was commercially canned, as soon as you open the jars, you run the risk of introducing bacteria. Because of the density of the butter, the heat of the canning pot struggles to penetrate the product fully and so it runs the risk of going bad. At no time should pumpkin butter be canned at home, whether it’s homemade or commercially produced.

      • is it ok to take fresh pumpkin that has been mashed, freeze it then later thaw and make pumpkin butter in the slow cooker then refrigerate

          • what if I put it into a container that may not be air tight but is kept refrigerated. Say a little Christmas container that has a lid

  60. Hi! I just canned two pressure canner loads of mixed winter squash (kabocha, hubbard, pumpkin) cubes, and after cooling, the liquids in the jars of both batches became semi-gelatinous and opaque. Did something go wrong, or is this a natural reaction from the squash due to its composition?

    • I’m so sorry, but I don’t know the answer to this question. I’ve not experienced this personally and I don’t have enough knowledge in the composition of winter squash to comment.

    • It is not possible to can pumpkin butter at home. Commercial facilities have the ability to process at higher temperatures and pressures than is possible to achieve in a home kitchen, which is why they can produce and sell it.

  61. Of course the owner of this site has to say it’s unsafe per regulations because it’s her job. However, I did a quick search and found the most recent (2011) CDC confirmed cases of food bourne botulism for the United States – 20 cases.

    I believe the old ways are good ways and our country is becoming overly skittish about everything. Heck, I think eating fast food is MUCH scarier than canning what our grandmothers canned.

    • ***Need advice.***

      I just cut up my whole pumpkin into cubes. I then put it through my auger-style Samson juicer without extracting the juice. It yielded me just pumpkin pulp. I then took the pulp and placed in my Food Saver vacuum sealed bag, which removed all of the air. It was then immediately transferred into my fridge which is sitting at 36 degrees.

      My game plan was to open the bag, put it on the stove and boil/ simmer for about an hour along with my other ingredients…….citric acid, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. I was going to make like a pumpkin jam with it. It would then go back into the fridge in another vacuum sealer jar.

      Would this be ok to use and keep in the fridge for the next few weeks as a jam, or until Turkey Day next week.

      Any advice would be greatly appreciate.

  62. It’s so funny how controversial canning pumpkin is!!! And both sides are correct, this is isn’t a yes/no situation: you can get sick, but from a statistical standpoint, you’re more likely to get sick from contaminants in the industrialized food system like buying frozen fruit with hepatitis then you are from safely home canned pumpkin. Like raw milk, which can contain listeriosis, and therefore can be “dangerous”, it’s a personal choice. Yes, it’s an “at your own risk” situation, so folks like the USDA and their strict followers can’t ever say “o.k.” since they can’t have any question of botulism being possible. However, as many have said, Grandma never gave anyone botulism, and she canned pumpkin her whole like. So even if you can’t recommend it, once you give someone the facts, it’s up to them to decide wether or not it it might be safe. I mean, the USDA doesn’t suggest you stop eating at Jack in the Box. But I don’t. I will can my own dang pumpkin without fear, carefully, and test the ph since I’m smart and I know how. If you don’t feel confident about it, people will have no problem scaring you out of doing it. Watch how your chicken gets processed in China or a frozen food factory and you might not worry as much about botulism in home canned pumpkin products. Industry can have “allowable” amounts of trace contamination, but oh boy, doing it at home just isn’t as safe. I respect the well done research by Marisa and my local UC extension of Master Preservers, but I disagree with this bias. So once again something as simple as canned pumpkin involves food politics.

  63. Completely agree. Didn’t have a recipe and used the same method as apple butter…..just opened a jar from the shelf whoooo the smell knocked me over. badbadbad. Don’t do IT! Resist the urge. Now all that work and I have to throw it out. Wish I had frozen it.

    • Botulism spores aren’t necessarily present in pumpkin. But the finished product is too dense and low in acid to be safe for canning.

  64. I see cans of puree pumpkin in the supermarket all of the time. Can’t can it? Pfft. This sounds like some kind of old wives tale.

    • It’s actually better if you don’t can it, because part of what can encourage botulism growth is an oxygen free environment. For storage, the freezer is best for pumpkin butter.

      • @Marissa, thank you for all your posts and great information, you seem very vigilant and well informed. Can I ask what your your background is? I mean absolutely no disrespect by my question. I am just curious if you have a food safety specialist degree, or if you are self-educated, motivated and well informed. Thank you!

  65. Can I can it in a tree?
    Can I can it with a bee?

    Can I can it in a plane?
    Can I can it on a train?

    Can I can it in a house?
    Can I can it with a mouse?

    NO! UNLESS YOU HAVE INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT OR WANT TO RISK BOTULISM AND GO AGAINST USDA RECOMMENDATIONS YOU CANNOT CAN PUMPKIN BUTTER!!!!!

  66. I am shocked that so many on here on not questioning the USDA. Their track record is horrible. And their ties to big business give us another reason not to trust them. They give the green light on many unnatural things while trying to ban things such as organic eggs and fresh milk. For example, there have been many studies saying you should not eat microwave popcorn because of carcinogens but it is still on the market. They let us eat hot dogs! Use the toothpaste with the hand sanitizer ingredient (banned in Europe), food coloring (many of which are banned in Europe), and the “yoga mat” bread. Ever researched the quality of meat provided to schools? Don’t! But it is USDA approved. But please don’t eat farm fresh eggs, drink raw milk or make your own pumpkin butter. Marisa, are you being compensated by the USDA for this war on pumpkin butter? Instead of responding that it is not safe, maybe look into the many cases where the USDA has steered us down the wrong path and decide that it is okay to doubt their “logic.” I have not heard of any pumpkin butter botulism outbreaks.

    • Sarie, I will be the first to admit that the USDA is sometimes suspect, but this really isn’t a matter of a corrupt government body. This is a matter of science. Pumpkin butter is too dense and too low in acid to be canned safely in a boiling water bath at home. It’s not a matter up for debate, it’s about botulism spores, heat penetration, and pH levels.

      • I would like to start with “I totally don’t plan on canning any pumpkin butter unless the answer to my question is yes because I get that we’re talking science and I have no desire to risk any lives”. That being said, if I added an acid to the pumpkin butter and tested it to ensure that the pH level was high enough would that make it safe to can or would the density counter the addition of the acid?

        • Even if it had the proper acidity (which would require a LOT of citric acid or lemon juice), the density would be such that one could not guarantee that the heat of the canner would be able to fully penetrate to the center of the preserve and kill off spoilage-prone microorganisms. This means that it could still go bad, but it would do so in a way that would not be fatal, just unfortunate.

  67. So I understand the issues surrounding canning pumpkin butter/puree but what about pumpkin juice? I have searched online for a while but cant find a definitive answer on processing times (or its safety). Does anyone have any info if its safe and if so what should it be processed at.

    Thanks!

    • I’ve never even heard of pumpkin juice. However, because pumpkins are low in acid, I imagine you’d need to pressure can the juice.

  68. Well This old cook learned something new today DON”T CAN PUMPKIN after years of canning pumpkin and butters I won’t do it anymore. All your info was helpful and will freeze what I make and when giving it to people for gifts I’ll make sure they understand to use it up it about three weeks and keep refrigerated. One thing about pumpkin butter they don’t last long since its eaten up right away. Thank you so much I am glad I was looking for a new recipe today.

  69. So, i didnt know about the risk of pumpkin butter. I roasted the pumpkins at 400 for an hour. Then crockpot for 6-8 hrs with lemon, sugar and spices. Then i water bathed for 30 minutes.
    If i had it on the garage for 3 days can i put it in the freezer? Will it be safe?
    What if I got ph strips and test them before i cook with them?.

    • You could pH test it. If it’s been in the garage for three days, you could open up the jars, reheat the pumpkin butter and package it for the freezer.

  70. So let me get this straight: I can disregard USDA recommendations and can my pumpkin butter, which takes 20-30-however many minutes and requires canning jars, a pot or pots for sterilizing and canning, etc.
    OR… I can simply put the butter in containers and store it in the freezer – a process that takes maybe 5 minutes and requires no special equipment whatsoever. How DARE you try to save me time, money, and effort! 😉

    Seriously though, it amazes me how many people are arguing vehemently in favor of pointlessly doing extra work! “Well, Gramma always did it that way.” Gramma also washed clothes by hand; so I guess you’ll be trading in your HD washing machine and dryer for a washboard, wringer, and clothesline too. Because, after all, if it was good enough for Gramma…”

  71. Marissa,
    I understand your concerns about pumpkin butter. Adding citric acid does the trick. I’ve been canning butter for years as my mom and grandmother did in the past. It can be done. You can find it in Amish stores throughout Ohio and most do it at home, not commercially.

  72. I realize this is an older post, but since you mentioned adding pumpkin to an apple butter…
    http://www.sbcanning.com/2011/10/pumpkin-butter-safe-to-can.html
    Is that recipe likely to truly be safe? it seems to be an apple butter base (though the instrcutions are a tiny bit vague on that front), with dehydrated pumpkin powder added for flavor.
    I’d really love to be able to can a pumpkin-flavored butter as so far I’ve had to tell all my friends and relatives that it isn’t possible.

  73. I just wanted to say that I was going to can my pumpkin butter after reading several people on other sites say they’ve done it safely for years. But then I came across your site. I do NOT want to risk anyone’s lives – and especially those of my children – just to can pumpkin butter. I think I will just freeze it now! Thank you so much for your many comments addressing all of the concerns, so helpful. 🙂

  74. Hi!
    I was looking for the official government info on pumpkin canning for a friend and came here knowing you would be the one to have the link to it. You do! But sadly, the link you offer (and everyone else too! ) is dead :-(.
    Has the opinion of our great and wonderful government changed on this topic?

  75. I’m not an experienced canner but I am curious that if you can’t can pumpkin butter then how is it that I was able to purchase it in a jar unrefrigerated at my local Sprouts grocery store? Is that not the same thing just done commercially?

    • Commercial canning facilities are able to achieve higher levels of heat and pressure than can be reached at home. That’s how they’re able to preserve those varieties of pumpkin butter that you see in the grocery store.

      • Thanks for the quick response! I apologize for my ignorance on the subject (trying to educate myself) but isn’t there some way to get to a higher temperature? What temperature does commercial canning reach? Your info is very helpful!

        • There is simply a limit on how much heat and pressure a pressure canner designed for home use can achieve (the top safe temperature is 250F and you don’t want to take a until beyond 18 pounds of pressure). You need more than that to reliably penetrate to the center of a dense puree like pumpkin butter and kill off any present botulism spores. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to safely can pumpkin butter at home.

          • The pumpkin butter recipe that I have used for years (grandmas) says place all ingredients in a sauce pan .. bring to full rapid boil (240 degrees) pour into hot sterilized jars, put lid on tightly and turn upside down to seal. By the way this article reads it is not suppose to work? I haven’t killed anyone yet ??

            • Like the article says, pumpkin butter is a very dense, low acid product and so cannot be safely preserved in the home for shelf stability. Every time you make it the way that you do, you are rolling the dice. Additionally, a full rolling boil only reaches 212 degrees, not 240.

              • Canning manufactures use steam and high pressure temps to can safely. I have worked in those manufacturing companies. This is impossible to do in a home kitchen.
                Below for your education.
                -Water becomes steam when heated to a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature equates to 100 degrees Celsius or 373.15 degrees Kelvin. Steam is the gaseous state of water. It forms when water boils and is technically invisible, although a person can briefly catch glimpses of it when it mixes with cooler air and forms water droplets in the form of mist.
                Steam has many purposes, including electricity generation and soil sterilization. It also serves as a wood and concrete treatment and works in autoclaves to sterilize medical and laboratory equipment with high pressure.

  76. We can pumpkin in half-pint jars, at fifteen pounds, for about ninety minutes. Since all spoilage, including botulism, creates gases, and none of our jars have broken the seals for several years, and none of us have sickened, we are figuring that we are safe.

    Just how many of us have ancestors that have canned pumpkin/squash, ans have sickened and/or died from canning-borne poisons?

    • Certainly everyone is free to do as they wish in their own homes. Personally, the idea that no one has ever died isn’t enough of a safety net for me. Nor is the idea that no one has ever gotten sick. Often people did get sick from canning but it wasn’t diagnosed as such, simply written off as a bad stomach virus. Lastly, fruits and vegetables are different today then the heirloom ones our grandparents and generations prior preserved. They have been ‘bred’ for drought and disease resistance, to produce larger and more desireable crops. This has changed some of the acidity levels. So by all means for your immediate family do as you wish. I think it is only fair before passing these items on to others as gifts, or to consume in your home, you let them know the current recommendations so they can make their own informed decision if they want to consume it. Happy Canning!

      • My understanding is that botulism does not necessarily produce gas, and is therefore near impossible to detect. This study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC242325/) states that “gas production is an unreliable indicator of growth and toxin production by C. botulinum”. And as a farmer, I agree with Michelle above that crop characteristics have changed greatly over time due to breeding and selection. That is definitely not to say that we should not trust the wisdom of our grandparents and elders, but that it’s a good idea to check if the science backs up our assumptions. I see a lot of blogs out there with great recipes but with no explanations of their thought processes/assumptions in regard to safety – which is why I use Marissa’s blog as a resource!

    • I like Brady’s thinking. I’m also going to try using a combo of apples, pumpkin and lemon juice. I’ll let you know if I die!

  77. I am curious about doing a 50/50 ratio of pumpkin to apple butter mixture to can in pint sized or smaller jars. Has anyone done this safely? What was your experience?

  78. Why couldn’t we increase the acidity to a level that would be safe in canning by using citric acid in the puree before canning and boiling the jars. It seems to me that if the pumpkin acidity is too low, the use of Citric acid would even it out without changing the taste in a bad way. Especially since the spices in the pumpkin butter would over power the resulting tangier taste. I understand about the density of the pureed pumpkin, but there has to be a way of doing it safely at home.

  79. I want to make the pumpkin butter as a recipe stated and I want to freeze it. Bags are just a mess sometimes. Can I place in a jar and freeze after? Or if not is there another alternative to bags. Thanks for the help 🙂

  80. If you read it says, “When cooked down into a butter, pumpkin flesh becomes quite dense, making it difficult for the heat produced in a canner to penetrate fully through the contents of the jar.” I don’t know if any recipe that actually uses the flesh of a pumpkin.

    • All pumpkin butter uses the flesh, the meat, the interior of a pumpkin (or, if it’s not a pumpkin, it’s a winter squash, which has the same issues).

  81. Marisa,
    Thank you for continuing to educate people on the most up to date safety standards. It’s really important to keep current. I love passing on home preserved items to friends and family. I take it very seriously that I only offer things I know are made to the best of my knowledge to be the most up to date standards. Sure, canning can be a fun hobby but it’s also a responsibility. When you know better, you do better. I know I can always count on your website to have current information. Thank you!!

  82. I was wondering after freezing and thawing how long pumpkin butter can stay in your fridge and be used. Should i make ice cubes of it to freeze to keep it minimal.

  83. Thank you, this was very informative. I do have one question for you. I wanted to make pumpkin butter for my daughter who is away in college. I am in California and she is in Massachusetts and Mail takes approximately 2-3 days if I do express. i do not want to chance getting her sick but is there any way you know of to help it make the trip un-refrigerated? I was going to can it until I did some reading and very glad I did. Any suggestions you have would be helpful since I am very new to this.

    • There is no way to safely mail pumpkin butter to your daughter. Make her a different preserve, or buy a commercially preserved jar of pumpkin butter.

  84. Wow. I didnt know this was an issue. I bought some from a cottage business and was suprised how different it looked and tasted when i got my jar home. It was nothing like her samples. Thank you for the article.

    • With pumpkin butter, it’s not just about pH. It’s also about density. The density of the product is typically such that the heat of the canner cannot penetrate. So even if you get the pH low enough (it would need to be below 4.6), it is still not recommended that you can pumpkin butter.

  85. Hello! I’m making a batch of apple-pumpkin butter using solid-pack pumpkin from a can, NOT fresh pumpkin. Do you think it would be safe to can it in a pressure canner? Curious about whether or not it makes a difference if the pumpkin is fresh (and dangerous to can) or was in a commercial canned state before I used it in my recipe.

    • Unfortunately, the density of the pumpkin is the reason why it’s not safe for pressure canning. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using commercial or fresh pumpkin. It’s still not safe.

  86. Glad I found this! THANK YOU!

    I purchased Pumpkin Butter from a farmers’ market a couple of months ago. I stored it on a shelf and just recently got it out. Only NOW did I notice the small type on the bottom of the label that read, “refrigerate.” I wasn’t sure if it meant refrigerate after opening or refrigerate always. I’ve purchased commercial Pumpkin Butter before that was shelf stable, so I was puzzled.

    The lid on this unrefrigerated Pumpkin Butter looks adequately sealed — it doesn’t bulge and it hasn’t popped. BUT I noticed a few small bubbles in the pumpkin butter inside the jar. Those had me worried.

    I’m afraid it could be contaminated with botulism. Is there any way to know?

    Also, should I contact the farmer about it?

    Good to know that pumpkin butter can’t safely be home-canned! Thank you!

    • There is no test to determine whether something has botulism or not. That’s why it’s so dangerous.

      I don’t know whether the refrigerate label meant refrigerate all long, or after it was opened. You might reach out to the farmer to be sure.

  87. […] freeze it for longer-term storage. Canning pumpkin butter is actually not recommended – click here to read someone else’s well-written post with an explanation about why not. (Please note that this is an edit of the original post after one of my kind readers informed me […]

  88. Already made and canned my pumpkin butter before reading all about the hazards. Does anyone know if it’s safe to freeze and use? I canned last night and left it on the counter over night. I now put it in the freezer but would rather be safe than sorry! Thanks!

  89. I just read that it is not safe to can pumpkin or any type squash because of low acidity, and not safe any way you can do it. Well I have bought squash relish at festivals that was home canned. So, is it not safe? After reading the arrival I tend to think not, but you are the one who knows more about that than I do. Thanks because I have had food poisoning, although I got mine from a restaurant, I thought I would die it can be very painful, and make you very sick. Thank You for awareness.

  90. Thank you for your wonderful and diligent effort to educate us home canners. I certainly will NOT can pumpkin butter. I was going to make some today. I realize that the best way is to make what we’ll eat over the short term to be kept in the fridge and then freeze the pumpkin puree that I make. I can always use the puree to make pies or butter depending on what the family wants at the time. For interest I use the Halloween pumpkin varieties to make pumpkin puree. It has a lot of water in it, so after baking the fresh pumpkin in the oven, I let it sit and scoop the water off and then freeze in baggies. I make pies for haying crews, and the best pies (the guys tell me) are the pumpkin made with 150 proof rum or Captain Morgan’s Spiced rum (2 T./pie). I also use the spiced rum to lightly wash over banana bread after it comes out of the oven. Makes the crust delightfully moist and everyone loves it. I use very good bourbon in anything chocolate, apricot brandy in peach pies, Cointreau in apple/cranberry pies, and make a fantastic sweet hard cider apple pie. Port in pumpkin butter is fantastic and also in elderberry jelly. We don’t drink alcohol in our family but I definitely cook with liquor and use the best brands. Oh, yes, the maple whiskey is also great for a wash on banana/cranberry bread. The liquor isn’t obvious in anything I bake, but it brings our the flavors wonderfully. Happy pumpkin cooking to everyone this Halloween!

  91. Just wondereing how long could I keep the canned pumpkin butter in the refrigerator after I have made it from scratch using a whole baking pumpkin and canned with a hot bath to seal the lid?

    • You really don’t want to seal pumpkin butter in a boiling water bath canner. Even if you’re keeping it in the fridge, you’re creating favorable conditions for botulism.

  92. Wow. Glad I found this. I bought a small jar of pumpkin butter 3 months ago at a small farm stand craft shop made by a local person while on vacation. I forgot to try it.. so I was looking to see if it was still ediable… and now I find out it NEVER was! Now I dont know if I trust any home canned foods. I have no idea how well anyone has pre pared the food. If I dont know who did it.

  93. Ive canned pumpkin butter in the past, using pressure cooker. When cooking the pumpkin down I added apple cider to add acid to it. It canned just fine.

  94. Marisa you said you were going to try apple and pumpkin butter did it work? What if you added lemon juice or apple cider vinegar? I really want to try and can some. How can we tell if the food is contaminated is there a test kit?

  95. If the density is the problem, why can’t you puree everything, add a ton of water to the recipe, cook it up to the required temperature in a pressure cooker, simmer or boil off the excess water, and then can what’s left when it returns to the density you want? I’m not an experienced canner, I’m just theorizing. Would this result in something safer even if it’s a little unorthodox? Or would it just ruin the recipe?

    • It’s the density once in the jar that’s the issue. So even though you cooked it to the proper temperature, the goal is to absolutely ensure that no botulism spores exist inside the jar at the time of canning. So you still need the heat of the pressure canner to be able to penetrate to the center of the jar, which brings us back to the density issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Partners

    Fillmore Container banner ad EcoJarz banner ad McDonald paper banner ad Mason Jar Lifestyle banner
  • %d bloggers like this: