Your canned pumpkin might not be ALL pumpkin - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Your canned pumpkin might not be ALL pumpkin

(Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS) (Source: Nichole Cartmell/KFVS)
(KFVS) -


Your favorite canned pumpkin isn't exactly what you might think.

Scientifically speaking, this is a variant of Cucurbita pepo. Most people would call it a pumpkin.

But you likely would not find it in your favorite dishes.

Instead, this is the main ingredient in most canned pumpkin sold in the United States.

It is known as Cucurbita moschata. It's described as a tan-colored, firm-fleshed, and elongated squash.

It's more commonly known as a crookneck pumpkin.

These gourds are in the same species as butternut squash.

That means your favorite pumpkin pie should actually be called squash pie.

Libby's, the brand that sells about 90 percent of the canned pumpkin in the United States, developed its own form it calls Dickinson.

The Libby's Select "pumpkins" are made to eat. When cooked the Dickinson gourds are sweet and creamy.

However, your typical field pumpkin is stringy and watery.

So is this legal?

Technically, yes.

Under current regulations, the Food and Drug Administration says its is fine to label cans as pumpkin even if it is really squash.

In the labeling of articles prepared from golden-fleshed, sweet squash or mixtures of such squash and field pumpkin, we will consider the designation "pumpkin" to be in essential compliance with the "common or usual name" requirements of sections 403(i)(l) and 403(i)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the "specifying of identity" required by section 1453(a)(1) of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.

In fact, pumpkin and squash are, in some cases, mixed intentionally to obtain the consistency we all know and love.

According to the FDA, it won't initiate regulatory action on canners that use golden-fleshed, sweet squash, or mixtures of such squash with field pumpkins and still label it as pumpkin.

This has been the policy since 1938.

Bottom line: If you want to be 100 percent sure that your pumpkin pie filling is completely pumpkin, you are better off making it on your own.

However, make sure you have a good knife and a food processor.

CLICK HERE for a recipe. 

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