'Tis the season for all things pumpkin. Pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes....lotta pumpkin up in heeah these days. With the abundance of pumpkin recipes dancing in my head, I ask the burning question: canned vs. fresh pumpkin?
I admit, I am a long-time canned pumpkin consumer. Roasting pumpkins and pumpkin seeds were not a part of my upbringing. Well that stops now! We still had this darling baking pumpkin from our CSA farm share and it sparked something inside me. I am a gardener and a foodie true and true, and I'm here to step up to the challenge and decide once and for all which is better: fresh or canned?
Round 1: AESTHETIC VALUE
The first challenge is obvious. Fresh pumpkins are adorable. They are not only used for baking and cooking but are a staple in fall decor. In the other corner we have an aluminum can of pumpkin puree. Not only is it aesthetically unpleasing, but it's also harmful to the environment (Boo!).
Round 2: THE PUREE
This one is less apparent.
On one hand, the steps necessary to actually obtain the fresh puree is far more timely than simply opening a can. Cutting, deseeding, roasting, peeling and pureeing - a lengthy process.
HOWEVER, the color of the fresh puree captures the essence of the pumpkin - bright and crisp. The canned pumpkin is more brownish, not as vivid. Also the texture of the fresh puree is silky and smooth. The canned is gritty and dense.
Round 3: THE FINAL PRODUCT
Of course when we are talking pumpkin bread with a cinnamon streusel topping, they are both going to be delicious, and they were. The texture of the bread made with fresh pumpkin puree was smooth and velvety. The bread was rich with subtle pumpkin flavor. The bread made with the canned pumpkin was more dense and the pumpkin flavor was stronger.
Actually there is no contest: fresh totally knocks out canned. Reminds me of Rocky III when Rocky beats the Russian - you knew all along the Italian Stallion would pull through. Little secret: I had an inkling the fresh pumpkin would be victorious.
Lesson learned? It is well worth your time to roast and puree fresh pumpkins. Roast a lot at one time and freeze what you don't use. And don't forget the seeds!
A final pic of the mouth-watering champion.