Using pumpkin in your cooking, whether in a pie, in a soup or in your own favorite home recipe, is an easy way to add nutrition and taste to your meals. However, the sheer effort of cleaning, gutting and pureeing the vegetable is enough to make most home chefs turn their back on this delicious vegetable that's high in potassium, iron and Vitamin A. You may think of turning to the canned version of the pureed vegetable for convenience, but before you reach out to grab a can, you remember that canned vegetables are usually far less nutritious than fresh vegetables. But, is this really the case when it comes to your favorite orange gourd?
Why Canned Veggies Usually Have a Bad Reputation
Canned vegetables, unlike most frozen or fresh vegetables, are cooked before you take them home. Because they're cooked at the factory, they lose much of their nutrients during this intense heating process. To make canned vegetables even less healthy, they're usually soaked in a preservative liquid, which is itself high in ingredients like salt and other preservatives and additives. However, it is possible to find canned vegetables without any additives, especially when you're looking at purees.
Pumpkin is one pureed vegetable that you can find without any additives in canned form; just be sure that nothing else is listed in the ingredients. If you're worried about the loss of nutrition that comes from the vegetable being pre-cooked, consider that for virtually any dish that requires pumpkin, you'll be cooking it anyway. When you cook the vegetable, you cause it to lose just as much nutrition as it does during the pre-cooking canning process. (Although it will still have quite a bit of nutrition; this is one vegetable that survives the cooking process fairly well with nutrition intact.)
Minimal Difference in Taste
If the fact that canned pumpkin is just as nutritionally healthy for you as the fresh version isn't enough to convince you that it's worth saving yourself the time and effort of preparing a fresh vegetable yourself, consider the fact that there is only a minimal difference in taste. However, when it comes down to professional chef's opinions, you're likely to find that the fresh version of the vegetable wins out slightly over the canned version--but even they'll agree that the canned version is still quite delicious. If you're looking for a lighter, milder flavor, you may find preparing the fresh vegetable worth the effort. However, don't be afraid to try the canned version to discern your personal preference.
Consider the Ease of Preparation (or Lack Thereof)
Canned pumpkin is just as good as the fresh version, at least when it comes to nutritional content. Perhaps, depending on your tastes, you'll find the taste just as good, too. Where it really shines, though, is in the ease of preparation. Preparing a fresh pumpkin takes upward of an hour, if you first bake or boil the vegetable, then cut it apart, scrap out the insides, separate the seeds and puree it. Canned only requires you to open the can!