“Where’s the canned pumpkin?!” News of pumpkin shortage has bakers running scared.

Remember The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009?

Just as fall baking season kicked into gear, shoppers found supermarket shelves devoid of canned pumpkin. A disastrous crop year in the Midwest, the country’s prime pumpkin-growing region, spelled doom for many a Thanksgiving pie-baker that year.

And this year, you may think we’re in for more of the same.

But we’re not.

While the Northeast has had a very tough pumpkin year (due to a wet spring, an outbreak of fungus, and flooding from Hurricane Irene), the rest of the country is doing OK, thanks very much.

Libby’s, the chief supplier of canned pumpkin to America’s bakers, had this to say in an August press release:

“While much of the country has been suffering from unusually high temperatures this summer, the weather seems to be perfect for growing pumpkin! That’s right, thanks to Mother Nature and the hard work of the dedicated pumpkin farmers in Morton, Illinois – the pumpkin capital of the world! – Libby’s Pumpkin is happy to report that consumers will be able to find a bountiful supply of their beloved pumpkin on grocer’s shelves in plenty of time for the 2011 holiday season.”

So, it may be difficult to find your favorite brand of canned pumpkin at the moment.

Especially in the Northeast, where local manufacturers – e.g., One-Pie – may be having trouble with their supply.

But hold tight; the new crop should be hitting your supermarket shortly.

Just in time for Harvest Pumpkin Scones, my all-time favorite pumpkin recipe!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. mboone5758

    Here in metro Atlanta, GA Kroger, Walmart, and Publix ALL have plenty of canned pumpkin–as well as the filling mix–ready to pour into the crust.

    You can buy fresh pumpkin–don’t you love the bright color of your baked items when you use fresh pumpkin. It freezes well too.

    I always buy 4 or so after the holidays when they are reduced. Publix will have them Buy 1 Get 1 Free (BIGIF) and I will get 2 sets = 4 cans. Here in GA, by law–BIGIF means each one is half price. You do not have to buy 2.

    Glad to hear you have a good supply of pumpkin down in the Southeast. There are just SO many good pumpkin recipes to make this time of year! To tell the truth, I have a hard time getting fresh pumpkin as thick as I want – though I’m sure it’s very tasty and, as you say, it’s definitely pretty… PJH

  2. joltster

    Out here in California, there is plenty of pumpkin to go around- fresh as well as canned. However, I’m not really into pumpkin pie, but I have made sweet potato pies as well as a butternut squash pie which came out surprisingly well the first time that I did it- and of course, I used KAF and KA Perfect Pastry Blend- which has made all the difference with my pie crusts. I won’t use anything else. If I can’t find KAF, then I will NOT make pies or on occasion- breads!

    Butternut squash pie sounds wonderful, and I’m thinking – acorn squash should be just as good, right? Or buttercup? Thanks for sharing, and for your kind words about our flour – it DOES make a difference! PJH

  3. nikzup03

    my pumpkin plant got that fungus and died 🙁 it was a sad day, then it spread to my cucumbers (but i still managed to get some good ones) i’m in central ohio. hoping for a more bountiful harvest next year!

  4. karynspertzel

    I’ve given up on canned pumpkin and have been buying pumpkins and roasting them in the oven, puree’ing the innards and freezing in 2 cup increments. it’s cheaper (albeit more time consuming!) and I also get roasted pumpkin seeds out of the bargain!

  5. Michaela

    check your ingredients on your canned “pumpkin”. Quite often, the 1st ingredient is SQUASH!

    I like Martibeth’s idea, messy but inexpensive, and 100% pure

  6. Granea

    I, too, freeze my canned pumpkin. I buy the larger, “family-sized” cans, use part, and freeze the rest. There’s such a high water content that it doesn’t take much to defrost it.

    I’ve thought about freezing it in ice cube trays, but I’ve just not gotten around to it yet!

  7. kd8ejt

    2 weeks ago I was at one of our local grocery stores with my 15 yr old. After he asked for pumpkin pie we went on a search for canned pumpkin so he could make some. This particular store said it was a seasonal item and it wouldn’t be in until October. I haven’t been back since to see if they have any. Yesterday I was at a different store and managed to find the last 2 cans of their store brand.

    I think I’m going to stock up on fresh pumpkins and making my own. That way when we want pumpkin pie in July we can make it.

  8. Margy

    We tried raising some pumpkins in our garden this year; had 4 beautiful specimens but couldn’t beat the critters (ie., deer and squirrels)to them. Managed to salvage one that only had the outer rind gnawed on. Cooked it down and made a big batch of pumpkin ravioli. A good home-cooked sugar pumpkin beats canned pumpkin hands down.

  9. crimsicle

    I ran into the “sorry…that’s a seasonal item” at my local Kroger a couple of weeks ago. My cat has digestive issues, and pumpkin is one of the approaches to helping her. The guy at Kroger said I had been the second person in less than an hour looking for pumpkin. Hellllooooo!!! Found plenty at Walmart! I think I need to stock up!

  10. skeptic7

    What type of pumpkins do you have in New England? I was at a farmstand and a couple of farmer’s markets here and saw crook-neck pumpkins, white pumpkins, blue pumpkins, cushaw pumpkins and a pink banana squash. There were also bronze pumpkins and Fairytale pumkins and warty pumpkins at Trader Joe’s. There were normal jack oh lantern pumkins and orange pie pumkins everywhere. This is in Virginia near Washington DC.
    I plan to make pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup and pumpkin scones and pumpkin muffins. I was startled to find that the white pumpkins are actually raised to cook as oppose to a Halloween decoration.

    For cooking/baking, we mainly have the classic New England Sugar Pie pumpkin, Skeptic – they’re pretty small (about 5 pounds), but wonderfully sweet. There are other varieties grown mainly for show – PJH

  11. dstrickland

    I’ve checked a few stores here in RI – they seem to have the One Pie and the organic pumpkin (shown in photo above) as well as the Libby’s Pumpkin Pie FILLING, but I haven’t seen any cans of just plain pumpkin. Going to launch a full-scale search this weekend. Also tempted to try roasting a fresh pumpkin to see how it comes out. Cross your fingers! =)

  12. Bookworm1860

    Try roasting your own, you may well never go back to canned. I just mash it, I don’t puree. Sugar pumpkins are fairly easy to find, Long Island Cheese pumpkins are good if you can find them, and the white (Lumina, IIRC) have a really nice flesh for baking (don’t bother with the seeds though). Any of the winter squashes can be subbed, historically squash pies were almost as common as pumpkin.

  13. Tracy W

    I was in Kroger on Sunday night and they were out of canned pumpkin! I was shocked-didn’t know they ever ran out. My 5 year old has been asking for something with pumpkin for a week. I will have to check back-so glad to know it was not a sign of things to come!

  14. gpyrocat

    I’ve been cooking my own pumpkin, when available, for years. I’ve found that blending it in my stand mixer and then straining it for several hours or even overnight does the trick. No weepy pumpkin pie!

  15. harwoods

    “Seasonal item”? Since when?? You have been able to get canned pumpkin year round…granted, you may not be tripping over it in the aisles. That was just an answer they gave because they didn’t have any and had no explanation otherwise. Seasonal items don’t have a permanent place on the shelf.

    But I was relieved to read this blog entry. I was concerned here in NC. I’ve looked at 4-5 different stores (Lowes, Food Lion, Walmart, Target, etc)…they did not have canned pumpkin- especially in the smaller cans. I did manage to find TONS of it at Harris Teeter last week finally…so I bought 6 cans to hold me over till this apparent dry-spell clears up around here.


    There’s lots of canned pumpkin here in MO as well. If worse comes to worse, you can use boiled, mashed, drained, food processed and spiced butternut squash for a substitute. In fact we may use the squash this year in lieu of pumpkin for our Thanksgiving pumpkin (squash) double praline pie.

  17. nancpratt

    I’m glad I bought a few extra cans of One-Pie squash and pumpkin last year. It disappeared from the shelves after the holidays. I look and see an empty space and a sign at the store so I’m hopeful it will return because they are leaving the space for One-Pie. It has the best recipe and products ever anywhere. They are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I love fall baking.


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