Pumpkin, the quintessential taste of fall, is sure to put you in the mood for scary activities and the changing of the seasons as Halloween draws closer. There is a good chance that you have been looking up ideas for pumpkin carving (as well as templates for pumpkin carving) and stocking up on pumpkin puree, which is the canned pumpkin that can be used to make delectable pumpkin dishes such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin ravioli, and so on. But I’m curious, have you ever questioned if the pumpkin you buy in a can is indeed pumpkin?
What Exactly Does a Canned Pumpkin Consist of, Anyway?
This is a very controversial subject in terms of the facts surrounding food. It has come to the attention of some disgruntled chefs and foodies that canned pumpkin contains deceptive advertising and that the puree contained inside is really made from another kind of squash. So, what really is the reality? Let’s get into it.
Is the pumpkin that comes in a can really pumpkin?
When it comes to the foods that may be sold as “pumpkin,” the FDA has a very open-door policy. If a mixture of Cucurbita pepo (field pumpkins) and its near relative, Cucurbita maxima, is used in the production of a company’s puree, the agency will authorize the company to label its product “pumpkin” (sweet squashes such as acorn, kabocha, and Hubbard). There are also some wholesalers that combine pumpkin and squash in order to get the desired consistency.
For example, Libby’s, which is responsible for producing 85 percent of the canned pumpkin sold across the globe, has come under criticism for creating its own unique kind of squash. It has been argued that the firm is deceiving customers by boasting that it offers “100% pure” pumpkins while in reality it does not utilize the pie pumpkins or carving pumpkins that are available in retail shops. The issue is, it’s not quite as easy as that.
From both a botanical and a juridical standpoint, there is not much of a distinction to be made between a pumpkin and squash. In all honesty, the only thing that matters is what appeals to your sense of taste. “It’s squash if I’m going to eat it with supper. If it’s anything sweet, it has to be a pumpkin, “John Ackerman, the proprietor of Ackerman Family Farm and a supplier to Libby’s, explains.” Regarding the “squash” that Libby uses, it is really a Dickinson pumpkin kind. Yes, pumpkin.
Is there a difference between these pumpkins and normal pumpkins?
It’s no secret that the Dickinsons used by Libby’s aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as your average pumpkin. They have a brown or beige color to their skin, and their form is more elongated than the spherical pumpkins we look for to carve into jack-o’-lanterns. Even though they seem to be misshapen pumpkins, one cannot deny the fact that they are pumpkins. Ackerman describes it as having a stem and light ribs all over it. “If you saw that Dickinson pumpkin, you’d probably call it a pumpkin,” said the man.
Libby’s is not at all trying to conceal the contents of its cans. They also have a lengthy informative film that you can watch to learn more about their pumpkins. It is important to note that these pumpkins have been grown to have a texture that is less stringy than the original Dickinsons they originated from; yet, this does not alter the fact that they are still pumpkins. Instead of utilizing high-tech GMOs, plant breeders hand-pollinate Dickinson pumpkins to achieve the finest taste, according to Ackerman. This is similar to how the pumpkins in your patch have been developed for their form so that they can be used for carving.
What’s the takeaway here?
You could waste your time worrying about whether or not the squash in your puree would have formed an attractive jack-o’-lantern, or you could simply enjoy your pie instead. Or the pumpkin pie you got from Costco (which goes great with ice cream, might we add).
Now that you know if the pumpkin in the can really is pumpkin, it’s time to investigate some of the other mysteries surrounding food. For instance, are you familiar with the ingredients that go into making marshmallows? Or how about the origin of the vanilla flavor? You will really quickly!