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Do You Need to Cook Canned Pumpkin?

So I bought a couple cans of organic pumpkin at Trader Joe's, figuring it'd be a versatile, healthy carb to serve with various things in various ways.

But there are no instructions on the can. Does this stuff need to be cooked, or will warming suffice?

I guess it's a dumb question; nothing in cans ever seems to need cooking. But I don't know. I was raised on canned food, shirked from studying its preparation (eating it was sufficient trauma), and have pretty much rejected it ever since...

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  1. Warming (heating) will suffice, as the pumpkin was cooked during the canning process.
    What are you planning to do with the pumpkin? Canned pumpkin has many applications: soup, sauce, as a pasta filling, a myriad of baked desserts...

    1. Anything commercially canned is cooked. You can use it in recipes or just heat with butter salt pepper/whatever.

      1. it's cooked, you just need to figure out what you want to do with it. I find it pretty bland, presuming you bought pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling which is flavored. you could just heat it through and add the spices, etc..to suit your taste. I usually cook with it, meaning add it to baked goods, use it in soup, etc...it's very versatile...

        1 Reply
        1. re: geminigirl

          I usually use it for pumpkin bread. One can is good for 2 loaves. Occasionally I'll cook and puree a winter squash for the purpose, but cans like this are handy to have on hand.

        2. I used canned pumpkin without cooking it, primarily in sandwiches. One slice of bread spread with pumpkin, one slice spread with peanut butter - it's a great combo really. I usually cover the pumpkin with a generous sprinkle of sunflower nuts. I suggest using either Walnut bread or 7-Grain bread.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dhnelson59

            Mmmmm I just tried the sandwich! So yummie! Thanks defiantly will have my kids try this

          2. What....? You bought canned pumpkin?

            As geminigirl noted, unless you bought canned pumpkin specifically to be used in a dessert recipe, heat the stuff up, after seasoning it, in a microwave or in a sauce pan with a little butter or something so it won't stick. What are you intending to use it for?

            9 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              I've developed an eccentric cooking style that I can best describe via analogy to garanimals. Mixing and matching proteins, carbs, and fats, and then artfully making it work via seasonings and various potions and magic. No dishes/recipes that you could "name".

              This is the latest addition to my carb palette.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Garanimals was a mix and match line of children's clothing that was out in the 70's. Oh wait...still is out: http://www.garanimals.com/kids_clothe...

                  I got a lot of mileage out of this Bon App├ętit recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bread
                  last fall:


                  But I've also used dribs and drabs in plain yogurt and oatmeal like some other folks have posted. Also in a microwave pumpkin butter.

                  May be time to make another loaf of that bread though!

                  1. re: allgimbel

                    But what do these "garanimals" things have to do with food?

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      As the OP said above, the concept of mixing and matching...

                      1. re: allgimbel

                        Allgimbel, that epi Spiced Pumpkin Bread is my go-to for pumpkin bread...people really go crazy over it! I usually add more spices and decrease the sugar but it's fab.

                        1. re: Val

                          I agree on decreasing the sugar. I see it mentioned in a few other CH threads, so we're in good company!

                2. re: Jim Leff

                  I'd be interested in reading about just one of your creations. Would probably give us insights into the types of things that would work for you.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    some ideas quickly springing to mind:

                    1. add to leftover saffron brown rice before reheating on a skillet, to add moisture, body, and a hint of sweetness

                    2. serve a dollop atop simple steamed greens to stave off tedium (drizzle whole with olive oil and tamari and sprinkle with toasted sesame).

                    3. add to biryani and other grain dishes

                    4. mix with egg and breadcrumbs to make pumpkin croquettes

                    5. add a bit to eggy skillet scrambles, along with lots of onion

                    6. vague idea of using it to counterpoint soft tofu in stewy veg soups

              1. I eat it straight from the can all the time.

                Usually as sandwich filling (e.g. with peanut butter or Nutella) or mixed into hot oatmeal.

                1. Canned pumpkin always tastes a bit 'raw' and unfinished to me (there's that sharpish, sourish flavor that I associate with raw produce), though I think it has been cooked to some degree. I'd cook it a bit to mellow the flavors.

                  Bittman has a decent recipe for savory pumpkin custard if you're looking for ideas.

                  1. I've added it out of the can to softened frozen yogurt, added some cinnamon and refroze for a lighter kind of pumpkin frozen yogurt. No need for any cooking there.

                      1. I really like how the flavor of scotch bonnets matches up with pumpkin, like they serve in those Trinidadian roti joints. It probably would be pretty easy to get in that ballpark with the canned pumpkin- make a simple sofrito of the chiles with onion, add the pumpkin, and then some salt to taste, maybe even a squeeze of lime juice. That puree could then flavor up your rice, potatoes, chick peas, etc.

                        Another product to consider would be frozen yellow squash- it is already cubed and cooked, ready to use. And you could take just a few from the bag as you like and leave the rest in the freezer, no need to come up with ways to use up a whole can once opened (like with the pumpkin) if you only want a bit at a time.

                        ETA: along the lines of what you posted above regarding adding the pumpkin to biryani or other grain dishes- my wife has started adding roasted cubed sweet potato to her grain salads ever since having it served in a tabboule at a local Lebanese place. She'll make them with quinoa, rice, bulgher, heck even grape nuts- all along the same lines with the cubed sweet potato. It's really good and I can see the cubed squash working just as well.

                        1. It's technically fine out of the can, but I find that heating it, even for 5 min. on relatively low heat on the stove, cooks out the "canned" flavor. The Best Recipe makes this point in instructing you to cook the pumpkin prior to making a pie, and it's true that you can smell a certain metallic flavor that the cooking releases.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sholli

                            Nice. Also, agreed about the scotch bonnets, TongoRad.

                          2. I make pumpkin lattes for my diabetic father. Pumpkin, canned milk, strong coffee, Spenda (sugar, if you prefer), a little cinnamon. I usually triple the recipe and put in a jar, stored in the fridge. He heats a cup serving in the microwave. It's a nice late afternoon pick-me-up.