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Orange Alert! How to Handle the Potential Canned Pumpkin Shortage

Everywhere you look it's pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins this time of year. And unless you suffer from cucurbitophobia ("fear of pumpkins" -- yes, it's a thing: look it up), that's a happy sight. Why? Because many of the season's most...

Everywhere you look it's pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins this time of year. And unless you suffer from cucurbitophobia ("fear of pumpkins" -- yes, it's a thing: look it up), that's a happy sight. Why? Because many of the season's most beloved dishes are made with pumpkin. But what if we told you your favorite soups, muffins and pies are in jeopardy this year due to the likelihood of an impending canned pumpkin shortage? Let's take a closer look at the pumpkin paucity, along with what you can do to avoid ending up pumpkin-less this Thanksgiving.

Canned pumpkin shortage
Pumpkins may look plentiful at Halloween, but will there be enough come Thanksgiving?

 

A Look at the Numbers

Just because you saw an abundance of pumpkins at Halloween doesn't mean they'll be around to see you through Thanksgiving -- at least not in the form of canned pumpkin.

Leading pumpkin manufacturer Libby recently revealed that pumpkin yields this year were off by as much as a third -- a phenomenon which Illinois farmers attribute to record June rainfalls which washed out crops. While the company anticipated having just enough to get through Thanksgiving demand, they also predicted having none to spare.

According to Libby corporate and brand affairs director Roz O'Hearn, "Once we ship the remainder of the 2015 harvest, we'll have no more Libby's pumpkin to sell until harvest 2016."

Do you really want to chance it?

Pumpkin Planning

There are some things you can do to avoid falling victim to the potential pumpkin shortage. The first is simple: stock up now. University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences professor Mohammad Babadoost advises, "I would not wait until Nov. 20. I'd buy it whenever it comes to the store."

The other option may be slightly more labor-intensive, but barely so. In fact, when you realize how easy it is to make a two-ingredient (pumpkin, Kosher salt) pumpkin puree of your own, you'll be wondering why you haven't been doing it all along.

Alton Brown's five-star easy-rated recipe has at least one pumpkin puree convert raving, "This Thanksgiving was my first time using fresh pumpkin when making the pie. I'm never going back to canned pumpkin again."

Not only is the recipe simple and quick, but the end result is significantly less expensive than buying canned puree. So what do you need to start pureeing? Must-haves for getting the job done in the most expedient way include a cleaver, food processor, and sheet pan.

The best part? Homemade pumpkin puree can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months. So when the canned pumpkin puree goes MIA from the grocery store aisles, you'll have your very own supply.

Canned pumpkin shortage
Fresh pumpkin can easily be transformed into puree...with the right tools, that is.

 

While a pumpkin puree shortage isn't a catastrophe, it's far from ideal, either -- particular when you're trying to execute the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Why not save yourself the last minute -- and potentially futile -- dash around town by stocking up now or making some of your own? Get everything you need for pumpkin puree and beyond by browsing kitchenware, cookware, cookbooks and more at your one-stop destination for all thing cooking, Cilantro The Cooks Shop.