UPDATE: I talked to Kroger spokesman Carl York this afternoon, and he said the shortage is definitely affecting supplies of canned pumpkin in our area. Kroger stores are getting it “on allocation,” which means they cannot get all that they order right now. He said he isn’t sure when the rationing will end, but he does know that it has not affected supplies of frozen pumpkin pies or the pumpkin pies you can buy in the Kroger bakery.
“I know for some customers, that might not be an alternative,” he said.
If you go to your Kroger store and cannot find canned pumpkin, check with the customer service desk. They may be able to tell you if another order is coming in or if they can get some from another store. Also remember that fresh pie pumpkins are a delicious alternative to canned pumpkin. If you can find pie pumpkins, all you have to do it split them in half, remove the seeds and stem, place them in a microwave-safe dish with about an inch of water on the bottom, cover and nuke until soft. Then scoop out the flesh, puree it and go from there as you would with a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Another good idea came from my co-worker Tonia Moxley, who is a great cook: try subbing butternut squash instead.
I don’t know if you all have heard the news, but we may be facing a bit of a pumpkin shortage come holiday time (L.A. Times story; Baltimore Sun article). It’s hard to believe, seeing the Halloween pumpkins stacked in front of grocery stores and spread across fields at the orchards, but it’s true — canned pumpkin is scarce right now, and when the shelves do get stocked, you might be paying upwards of an additional dollar for one can of Libby’s, the leading brand.
Apparently, it was wet weather last pumpkin season that is negatively affecting supplies of canned pumpkin this year. That’s because the canned pumpkin companies generally use surplus from the previous season to supply stores in September and October. Then, once this year’s harvest begins, they can start stocking fresh cans.
I have to wonder if this year’s harvest is going to be much better, though. At least in these parts, it seems a lot of people’s summer squash harvests were ruined by too much rain. Maybe the harder shelled winter squashes are a different story. But it seems that most of the canned pumpkin comes from out west anyway.
Has anyone had trouble finding canned pumpkin at local grocery stores lately?