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Cook’s Illustrated reviews Canned Pumpkin

Canned Pumpkin
Pumpkin is a fall baking staple, and while you can certainly make your own puree at home with just a little bit of effort, it is far easier to stock up on canned pumpkin for your baking projects. Canned pumpkin is a very consistent and reliable product to work with and can give you great results in your recipes. Most recipes that call for pumpkin are formulated to use canned puree, and because homemade versions can vary somewhat in flavor and texture, they can occasionally throw a recipe off if you’re not aware of that. I do like to make homemade puree when I have an especially good pumpkin to work with, but I always have some of the canned stuff in my pantry so that I am ready to bake pumpkin pie on a moment’s notice. There are several brands of canned pumpkin out there and, like most products, there is some variation in flavor that can really impact your finished products. A few seasons ago, Cook’s Illustrated did a taste test on several brands of canned pumpkin to see which brand baked into the best pumpkin pie.

They tested Farmer’s Market Organic Canned Pumpkin, Libby’s Canned Pumpkin and One-Pie Canned Pumpkin. Libby’s Canned Pumpkin and One-Pie Canned Pumpkin were both taste-tester favorites, even though they had slightly different flavors. One Pie had a slightly “sharper” pumpkin flavor, while Libby’s was “creamy” and had more sweetness to it. The test kitchen didn’t recommend Farmer’s Market Organic Canned Pumpkin, which testers said had an unpleasant “chalky,” “vegetal” flavor to it. I bet that I’m not the only one who was surprised at the results of the test (given that I keep both brands in my pantry on a regular basis)! The full review is online (available without subscription until the end of the month), if you want to read through the test before stocking up on pumpkin the next time you’re at the store.

The CI test kitchen also mentions – and it is worth mentioning again regardless of your brand preference – that it is important to check the labels carefully when you’re buying canned pumpkin to ensure that you don’t buy pre-sweetened, pre-spiced pumpkin pie filling when you’re in the market for plain canned pumpkin for your baking.

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  • nancy@skinnykitchen.com
    October 14, 2011

    What a great informative post Nicole! I use both these brands and are very happy with them. One of my favorite skinny pumpkin recipes using canned pumpkin is Jamba Juice’s Pumpkin Smash Smoothie …

  • Debbie
    October 15, 2011

    I have had found just the opposite findings. I own bakeries and since I have found Farmers Market Pumpkin only use it. I think maybe this taste test could be comparing what the market has always been used to and then Farmers Market. Farmers Market has a very fresh taste, like it was just picked, while the other brands have that canned tang and “warn” flavor. I noticed the difference as soon as I started to use it so I called them. They grow their own pumpkins, harvest and have the Puree produced quickly. They also have the only organic pumpkin, packed in BPA free liners and are a family owned farm right here in the USA. I was just soooo surpised to read your findings.

  • Rachel
    October 15, 2011

    I just made a pumpkin pie using Farmers Market Canned Pumpkin and it was the most delicious pie! It was just such a fresh taste versus some of the other canned ones I have used in the past! The pie looked perfect and I am not a excellent baker by any means. It just seemed to bake better in comparison too! My whole family enjoyed it!!

  • Zach
    October 16, 2011

    Wow… I have used libby’s to make my pumpkin muffins before and after trying farmers market organic I will never go back to libby’s again. I sometimes find that libby’s has a “crunch” to it, like they left some vine or something. And it also can have a metal taste to it from the can. With the Organic Farmers Market – the color of the muffins is much brighter, and I have a fresh pumpkin taste and smell. I definitely recommend Farmers Market! And my recipe is super simple: 1 can farmers market organic pumpkin, 1 box any spice cake mix, and 1 cup chocolate chips… mix and bake @ 350. YUM!

  • vivienne
    October 25, 2013

    I thought the Farmers Market brand was terrible! It tastes very acidic/tannic, and reminds me almost of baby vomit (forgive the graphic description). I am really not a fan of cucurbits in general (squash, melons etc) which may explain why the “fresh” flavor was so unappealing to me. I do trust Cook’s Illustrated and I am also a certified organic vegetable grower so I tend to reach for the most ethical product. Unfortunately though I’ll have to go with Libby’s.

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