Canned Pumpkin or Fresh Baked Pumpkin: Which is the best to Bake with?
One of the questions we hear often in when it comes to holiday baking and specifically perfect pumpkin bread, cakes, cupcakes, cookies etc., is, what is it better to use fresh baked pumpkin or canned pumpkin?
We are not sure if there is a definite ‘better’, especially for every recipe but there are some thing to keep in mind when it comes to fresh baked pumpkin and canned pumpkin.
Most canned pumpkin is made with the pumpkins we know and see each year when we go to buy pumpkins for Halloween and the holidays. The bright orange Jack-O-Lantern style pumpkins. They are colorful and have thick flesh and bake easily.
We use canned pumpkin for quick bakes. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cakes and more… You can count on canned pumpkin for reliable flavor and consistency.
For when the late summer comes around and you have urges to try some thing new here are a number of tips for baking your own pumpkin!
Fresh pumpkin might even be an accidental plant in or near a garden from a few seeds from the previous years’ pumpkin carving, like this one that popped up in our garden!
These pumpkins are slightly sweet (sometimes they can be very sweet) and each pumpkin will be slightly different. The trick (if there is a trick) is to work with the differences in each pumpkin and that you will only know at the time you bake it.
What to Look for:
- Juiciness; some pumpkins are just very juicy and will make a lot of juice when baked. This can have a high sugar content and will be why the juice browns when baked. Others are just juicy and have less sugar content
- Flesh; The orange Jack-O-Lanterns can be quite fleshy and this is what gives pumpkin breads, cakes and cupcakes that thick, moist texture when baked. The quantity of flesh will vary but your small to medium sized pumpkins like seen in these images will yield from between 20-40 ounces (and sometimes more) of pumpkin flesh you can use for baking.
Fresh Pumpkin Baking Tips
- We use and recommend baking with parchment paper on a large pan with a short edge (to prevent juice from running everywhere).
- Bake at 350 on for conventional ovens and 335 for convection ovens. This will make sure the pumpkin is baked but not burned. You can go lower with the temperature when baking pumpkins, it will just take longer.
- When the pumpkin is done the skin will come off easily when pinched with fingers.
- Use a fork to test the pumpkin after it has baked for 25-35 minutes. The pumpkin will be easy to poke and may even deflate a bit if the skin has bubbled.
- Size matters. The larger the pumpkin the longer it will take to cook. We will cut a larger pumpkin into more than 2 halves to accommodate a larger pumpkin and keep to these guidelines for baking pumpkins.
- After your fresh baked pumpkin has baked and cooled you should be able to peel off the skin easily, cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and store in the freezer or refrigerate for use quickly.
- Refrigerated pumpkin is best if used within 3 days of refrigerating. Otherwise it can be frozen for weeks to be used later in the season.
- Different types of pumpkin can be baked using these guidelines easily. The flavor and texture will be different for each pumpkin.
Heirloom pumpkins, especially the larger ones took longer to bake. We just had to check periodically on the softness of the pumpkin as it baked.
When it was ready the skin came off very easily and the flesh was a lighter orange but very thick. It was a delicious fresh baked pumpkin. It made many moist loaves of pumpkin bread, and will be delicious in recipes like this one and others!