Is canned pumpkin actually made from a mixture of butternut and other squashes?


Is canned pumpkin actually made from a mixture of butternut and other squashes?


The terms pumpkin and squash are rather confusing.  Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squashes, cantaloupes, cucumbers, watermelons, and gourds.  A pumpkin is actually a type of squash.  The definition of “pumpkin” is based on the fruit’s appearance and use rather than a botanical term.  A “pumpkin” is typically round with a smooth, hard, slightly ribbed, deep yellow to orange skin.  Pumpkins have culinary and ornamental uses.

Pumpkins are members of four different plant species:

  • Common field pumpkins (such as ‘Howden’) and acorn squash are forms of Cucurbita pepo.
  • Cucurbita moschata includes butternut squash and some pumpkins (such as ‘Dickinson’).
  • Large-fruited winter squash (such as hubbard squash) and pumpkins (such as ‘Big Max’ and ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’) belong to the species Cucurbita maxima.
  • The fourth species (which includes cushaw-type pumpkins) is Cucurbita mixta.

The main source of commercial pumpkin puree is from the ‘Dickinson’ pumpkin. 

The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word pepon which means “large melon.”  This word was adapted to pompon by the French, pumpion by the English, and finally to pumpkin by the American colonists. 

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