During the fall, Libby's canned pumpkin is a staple for many home cooks.
The pumpkin pie recipe printed on Libby's label has been a go-to since its creation in 1950 and still is today. In October, the brand launched its first new pie recipe in 70 years and dubbed it the New Fashioned Pie. It's less sweet and a bit spicier than the traditional recipe.
But as shoppers pile cans of Libby's into their carts, many might wonder how the bright orange squash is actually processed. TODAY Food got an inside look at Libby's farms and factory to see how its famous pumpkin goes from the ground to the grocery store.
Step 1: Harvest the pumpkins
Did you know more than 75% of the country's canned pumpkin comes from Libby's farm in Morton, Illinois? That's a lot of pumpkins. Libby's plants a variety of squash called Dickinson pumpkins, which farmers begin harvesting as early as August to start canning for the fall season.
They may get an early start, but the process from when pumpkins are picked to when they're on pallets ready to be shipped across America only takes six hours.
Step 2: Ensure pumpkin perfection
After the pumpkins are harvested, they're taken in bulk to a facility so they can be unloaded and cleaned. A machine called the Tumbler removes the vines and leaves. Pumpkins are then chopped into quarters and inspected by employees for ripeness and imperfections.
Step 3: Mash 'em up
Once the pretty pumpkins make it through inspection, the pieces are softened with a wilting machine and mashed until smooth. The Squeezer then removes excess water from the mash so each serving is nice and creamy. Before the mixture is strained into a smooth puree, a grinder removes the rind and seeds from every batch of pumpkin meat.
Step 4: Can the puree so it's ready for pie
Clean cans are filled to the brim with creamy pumpkin puree and then cooked — Libby's says this process of cooking after canning helps to enhance the flavor. And, even though there are no preservatives added, cans of Libby's can last up to 24 months on the shelf.