Should any preservatives in canned pumpkin bother yeast?

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Should any preservatives in canned pumpkin bother yeast?

Postby billvelek » Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:27 am

I am planning to brew a pumpkin ale later today (my first one), and in preparation I have gone over all the pumpkin recipes on the Cat's Meow as well as those on BeerTools.com. I have also read every post that I can find in an assortment of brewing forums. Some say to add the pumpkin during the boil, while others say to add it to the mash; the mash seems more logical to me in order to achieve conversion of starches (I presume pumpkin has some), so that's what I'm planning to do. Some also say to use only fresh pumpkins, while others say it is okay to used canned pumpkin -- even in the mash -- and some even say that canned pumpkin pie filling is okay; others caution not to use the canned stuff in the mash because of the mess and possible stuck runoffs/sparges. I have a monster bazooka (10 feet long) and have never had a stuck runoff yet, including when I've used high quantities of oatmeal and even a wheat beer made with regular flour, so I'm willing to take my chances.

My question pertains to preservatives. I'm going to the store in the morning to buy the pumpkin, so I'm not sure whether I can find any that don't have preservatives; however, assuming the cans do contain something, is it reasonable to expect that the mashing and subsequent 90 minute boil will remove them or dilute them enough that they won't hurt the yeast? I'm planning to mash about 5 pounds of canned pumpkin in 10 pounds of grist to make a 5 gallon batch. There were some comments somewhere during the course of my research that suggested that preservatives are not a problem, but I'd like to confirm that if possible before buying it. For instance, if anyone were to definitively report that they used canned pumpkin containing preservatives and just couldn't get the yeast to ferment, and there are no contrary experiences by brewers who definitely used preservatives without problems, then I'd feel compelled to switch over to fresh pumpkin. The only reason I'm avoiding fresh is that it just seems to entail a lot of extra work that I'd like to avoid if possible.

Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.

Bill Velek
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Postby slothrob » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:36 am

I think the canned pumpkin, not the pie filling, is just pumpkin without preservatives. I haven't used it, but my brew buddy used 2 cans of that in an ale without problems.

The canned pumpkin is almost indistinguishable from cooked pumpkin, but if you want to go the fresh pumpkin route, here's a trick I learned from my mother's pie making days:

Take a whole sugar pumpkin (the ones that are about 6-8" in diameter), as they are the most flavorful, cut it in half. Place them cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake at around 350
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Thanks, Slothrob

Postby billvelek » Wed Oct 10, 2007 12:46 pm

Thanks, Slothrob. I live in a small city with close to 4,000 population plus lots of other folks living just outside the city limits, so I was very surprised that I tried a couple of stores and they had no canned pumpkin at all. What the heck is up with that??? :shock: Anyway, after looking at some fresh 'pie pumkins' which were pretty small and a bit pricey, I decided to wait until I go to the big city to get some canned stuff. So yesterday I brewed an Oatmeal Stout and an IPA. No partigyle -- two separate mashes. I considered one big mash and then dividing the wort in half, with a separate mini-mash of the specialty grains, but just decided to do two separate mashes since that's what I'm used to doing.

Cheers.

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Postby slothrob » Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:46 pm

I suppose the demand for canned pumpkin is still about a month away

It seems a heresy, but I've heard tell that the pumpkin adds very little to the beer and that you can make just as good a "pumpkin" ale by just adding the pie spice. I've never compared two otherwise identical beers side-by-side, but a local brewery (Shipyard, maybe?) does this and it wasn't obvious to me that it hurt the beer any.

The other side of this is that, since the pumpkin doesn't add much to the flavor, using a jack-o-lantern pumpkin instead of a pie pumpkin wouldn't make or break the beer, either. I don't think I'd bother cooking with anything but a sugar pumpkin, but maybe it isn't such a big deal for a beer. ...just in case you rally for another try before you make it to the city.
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Postby ColoradoBrewer » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:26 am

slothrob wrote:...It seems a heresy, but I've heard tell that the pumpkin adds very little to the beer and that you can make just as good a "pumpkin" ale by just adding the pie spice. I've never compared two otherwise identical beers side-by-side, but a local brewery (Shipyard, maybe?) does this and it wasn't obvious to me that it hurt the beer any...
Yeah, I've read the same thing. For what it's worth, I tasted the Shipyard pumpkin beer at the GABF last year and thought it was the best of all the pumpkin beers that were offered.
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Postby brewer13210 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:58 am

One of these days I'm going to have to do a parallel brew, one with and one without pumpkin, to see if there is any real difference.

Honestly, I really think 98% of the flavor of a "pumpkin" beer comes from the spices, and not the pumpkin.

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Postby mikey2 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:10 pm

I have made many pumpkin ales over the past 21 years and find that using canned 100% pumpkin (Libb'ys) works the best. I use it in the boil up front and generally do a 60 min boil with extract, I have used it in the mash and do find that it just works better in the boil. Libby's does not have any preservitives (listed) and I never had any fermentation problems. Since the pumpkin and spices are dominate in the final product, I no longer do this style as all-grain, as I do not find much improvement over extract, but I generally am a all-grain brewer. I use 3 -15oz cans in a 5 Gal batch and find that this is an optimum amount, good luck.
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