Why does my homemade pumpkin ("pie" pumpkins) never taste as good as the canned when nothing is added to can?

I use good organic pie pumpkins and roast them in the oven but they never taste the same as canned pumpkin. The canned pumpkin always tastes sweeter, mine taste sort of bland.

  • Posted by: Pilar
  • November 26, 2019


Hands April 24, 2024
Dickenson is a butternut, which is generally thought of as squash. Ultimately the term squash and the term pumpkin are not scientific and there is a lot of interchangeable use between the two. A pumpkin is a winter squash so to say that it's not made out of squash is just plain flat wrong because anything made out of pumpkin is made out of squash. So libby's is made out of squash and specifically a squash in the butternut family which is a Cucurbita moschata. This makes sense because the butternut family has very solid dense dry flesh that isn't stringy and tends to be quite sweet. As well, any moschata family squash has a solid vine which makes them much easier to grow because squash vine borers have a very hard time affecting them so that would be a good variety to choose for commercial production.
Stephanie B. November 26, 2019
It looks like you figured it out, but I'll throw my 2c in the squash vs. pumpkin pie thing. I just don't use pumpkins for pie anymore. I prefer something like kabocha or some heirloom varieties that are already quite sweet and more dense than pumpkin, so I don't have to bake then reduce.
Pilar November 26, 2019
I totally agree- the variety of good squash nowadays is amazing. But there is something about the nostalgia of good old fashioned pumpkin.
Wendy November 26, 2019
Hi Pilar,

I have had this problem before and solved it by putting the puréed pumpkin into a saucepan over very low heat and stirring constantly to reduce the amount of water in it. I find it also improves the flavour and is comparable to canned afterward. You could also use a double boiler if you are worried about scorching the bottom.
Pilar November 26, 2019
That is exactly right! removing the water is the difference according to Libby's who I called today.

I called them to find out what type of pumpkin they use and why my cooked pie pumpkin tastes so much different. The DO NOT use squash- here's what the site says about their canned pumpkin and also what they told me:

Perfect as the base ingredient in sweet or savory recipes, each can of LIBBY’S 100% Pure Pumpkin is all-natural and contains no preservatives. Our Dickinson variety of pumpkin goes from seed to can right here in the USA.

As for the difference in taste, they remove the water- typical pumpkins have a lot of water. By removing the water the flavor is concentrated= better flavor. But you figured that out. Thanks everyone!
Erin A. November 26, 2019
Hi Pilar! I'm working on finding a solid answer for you, but Cook's Illustrated says "be aware that fresh pumpkin puree does not taste exactly like canned pumpkin." Maybe something like Libby's canned pumpkin tastes different because they use a special variety called Dickinson? Here's a little more info from Cook's Illustrated, curious to see if other community members have an answer! https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/8740-baking-with-fresh-pumpkin-puree
Pilar November 26, 2019
thanks Erin! that does help.
hardlikearmour November 26, 2019
Libby's canned pumpkin is actually made from squash. "Bravetart" includes a history of it, and the pumpkin pie recipe in the book uses butternut.
Nancy November 26, 2019
I used to think that also ( about the squashes), but I just checked a few sources on the web and they say it's an urban myth.
Wonder about Bravetart sources.
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