Canning Thanksgiving Specialties

Do your friends and neighbors have pumpkin or hard winter squash on hand? Do they have lots of cranberries? How about turkey? They may want to have that goodness at Thanksgiving or throughout the winter.

Please remind your friends and neighbors that home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter, for any mashed or pureed pumpkin or for winter squash; no reproducible, scientifically verified home canning methods exist. You may want to share the following directions for canning cubed pumpkins and winter squash with them.

Canning Pumpkin and Winter Squash (HGIC 3281 Preserving pumpkin and winter squash)

  • Sixteen pounds pumpkin or winter squash typically yields a pressure canner load of 7 quarts (~2¼ pounds per quart).

  • Pumpkin and squash should have a hard rind and string-free, mature pulp of ideal fresh cooking quality. Small sugar or pie pumpkin varieties are best. Winter squash varieties include acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, golden delicious and Hubbard. Freeze spaghetti squash; it will not stay cubed when cooked and must not be canned.

  • Wash pumpkin or squash, remove seeds, cut into 1-inch slices and peel. Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Add to a saucepot of boiling water, and boil two minutes. Do not mash or puree.

  • Pack hot cubes into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Fill jar to 1 inch from top with boiling hot cooking liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids to finger tip tight.

  • Process in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure (12 pounds pressure between 2,001–4,000 feet) OR in a weighted-gauge pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure (15 pounds if above 1,000 ft. altitude). Process pints for 55 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.

  • To make pies using canned pumpkin, drain liquid from jars and strain or sieve cubes.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce (Source: Kingry and Devine. 2006. Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, p.180. Robert Rose, Inc. Toronto, Ontario)

  • Ingredients: 4 cups sugar; 4 cups water; 8 cups washed, fresh cranberries; (optional) grated zest of large orange. Recipe yields eight 8-oz jars.

  • Combine sugar and water in large saucepan and boil hard for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and bring to boil. Reduce heat, boil gently with occasional stirring until all berries burst and liquid begins to sheet from spoon (~15 minutes). If using orange zest, stir in during last few minutes of cooking.

  • Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids to finger tip tight.

  • Place jars in boiling water canner containing 180F water making sure they are covered with 1 to 2 inches water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. (At altitudes of 1,001 to 6,000 feet, process for 20 minutes.)

  • For more variety, check out recipes for Cranberry Orange Chutney or Spicy Cranberry Salsa at the National Center for Home Food Processing

Canning Turkey

  • Source: “Poultry”, p.91. In So Easy to Preserve. 2006. 5th ed.  Revised by Drs. E.L. Andress and J.A. Harrison. Cooperative Extension, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA. (

  • Choose freshly killed and dressed turkeys and chill for 6 to 12 hours before canning. Remove excess fat. Debone and cut into suitable sizes for canning. (Directions for canning with bones are provided in So Easy to Preserve.)

  • Select hot or raw pack. (a) Hot pack – Boil, steam or bake meat until about two-thirds done. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart, if desired. Fill jars with pieces and hot broth, leaving 1¼ inch headspace. Hot pack is preferred for best liquid cover and quality during storage. (b) Raw pack – Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart, if desired. Fill jars loosely with raw meat pieces, leaving 1¼   inch headspace. Do not add liquid.

  • At altitudes of 0 to 2,000 feet, process boneless turkey in a dial gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure; at altitudes of 2,001 to 4,000 feet, process at 12 pounds pressure. For a weighted gauge canner, process at 10 pounds pressure at 0 to 1000 feet; process at 15 pounds pressure at altitudes above 1,000 feet.  Process pints of boneless turkey for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.

  • Canned turkey can be used in soups, stews, pies and many other recipes.