Is there anything better than fall produce? Squashes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, cranberries, parsnips, beets, apples, sunchokes, clementines, and of course, PUMPKINS! What better way to capture the essence of autumn (and enjoy it year round) than whipping up a batch of unctuous, spicy-sweet pumpkin butter!
*Note: Pumpkin butter is like apple butter, not butter butter. It’s like a fruit jam, not something savory, as my husband was expecting when he took a taste test and raised his eyebrows in confusion.
I have found a pumpkin in Geneva that I really like. They call it a “potimarron,” and consider it a pumpkin; however, in English it is called a “red kuri squash.” It recalls butternut squash, sweet potato, sugar pumpkin, and chestnuts. To me, it’s the perfect blend of flavors. It also expels less water than a traditional pie pumpkin, which makes it easier to work with, since you don’t have to drain it for hours. The only downside compared to sugar pumpkins is that you can’t eat the seeds. (Trust me; I cooked them for like 2 hours and they still had the consistency of wood chips.)
Of course, you can adapt this recipe in many ways. You can use canned pumpkin (gasp!) and whichever spices you’d like to substitute. You can exchange apple cider for plain apple juice, but you will have to add some type of apple liquid, because the pectin they contain will help the butter thicken. You can substitute my sweeteners for maple syrup or white sugar. And experiment with different pumpkins, using something other than the red kuri squash, or a combination of your favorites.
Spicy-Sweet Pumpkin Butter
Yield: 5 1/2 cups
5 cups roasted pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups of sweetener (I used half brown sugar, half honey)
3/4 cup apple cider
Juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the top stem off the pumpkin, then slice the whole thing in half. This will require a big knife and much badassery. Indeed, once you get through it, you may feel compelled to let out a manly grunt of triumph, as I do. Scrape out all the seeds and stringy flesh from the cavity. The easiest way I have found to do this is with a grapefruit spoon. The light serration will help cut through the fibrous pumpkin guts.Once disemboweled, lay the pumpkin halves cut-side down in a baking dish. Pour in enough water to come about a ½-inch up the pumpkin. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove and let cool.
When it’s cool enough to handle, scrap out the roasted flesh and discard the skin. It should be pretty smooth, but if you need to, you can mash it with a fork or puree it in a food processor or with electric beaters to get it nice and silky. (Or you can wait and do that at the end, totally up to you.)
Put everything in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, lowering the heat even more if it starts to splatter at you. Taste occasionally to adjust the seasonings if necessary.
That’s it! You can keep it in jars in your fridge for about a week or in your freezer for as long as six months. You can also preserve it with a traditional canning process, and then store it at room temperature until the apocalypse (but it’s so tasty, it won’t last that long.)
And here’s something to entertain you while you let this deliciousness simmer: