Pumpkins are our ingredient of the season. In the past we’ve sampled pumpkin brews, used them to make mini pumpkin pies, and have added the seeds to not one, but two, salads.
After seeing Sarah’s request, I couldn’t help but make pumpkin butter as the first recipe for our new ingredient of the season. I have made apple butter many times, this was my first attempt at pumpkin, and rather than use the crockpot, I decided to try an oven-based recipe. I’ve since learned that while they are both butters and methods equally easy and produce delicious results, pumpkin butter cooks up much faster than its apple counterpart! I used this recipe for guidance, but made a few modifications as discussed below.
For this recipe we’re skipping the canned variety and starting with a raw pumpkin. If you’ve never bought a pumpkin for baking, you want to pick up one of the smaller “sugar pumpkins” and not the big pumpkins used for carving jack-o’-lanterns.
The easiest way to cook the pumpkin and remove its flesh from its rind is to roast it. We love this technique so much that by the end of November you’ll be happy if you never have to read the words “roast pumpkin” again. sorry.
How to Roast a Pumpkin (or any winter squash)
- Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds.
- Place the pumpkin, cut sides down, in a lightly oiled 9×13 inch baking pan.
- Roast in a 350F oven until the flesh is soft and easily pierced by a knife or fork. The original recipe called for roasting your pumpkin in a 450F oven, but I always prefer roasting my veggies at a lower temp for a longer time. I think it makes them even sweater with less of risk of getting burned and dried out bits, but the choice is yours.
- Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and you should find that the skin peels easily away from the flesh. This is even easier to do when the pumpkin has cooled! Use the roasted pumpkin for any recipe called for cooked pumpkin.
The original recipe called for 3 lbs of roasted pumpkin. That’s the quantity that you would get from approximately 2-3 pumpkins. I wanted to see what I could make with just one pumpkin, and as it turns out, my pumpkin produced close to 2 pounds of roasted goodness.
After weighing the pumpkin, and having approximately two-thirds of what the recipe called for, I adjusted all of the other ingredients accordingly (except for the sugar!). As is my habit, I reduced the quantity of sugar that was called for in the recipe, using just 1 cup rather than 1 1/3 cup sugar.
The great thing about making any sort of fruit butter is that you have plenty of time to taste it as it’s cooking down. That gives you plenty of time to sample and adjust the flavor to your liking, BUT, and I know this is obvious, you can’t take something away once you’ve added it. So start with less spice/sugar/salt than you may want and add more until you’ve hit your mark.
Another adjustment I made to this recipe was to put everything in the food processor and blend it ahead of time (the original instructions suggested doing this after cooking if you wanted a smoother butter). I knew I wanted mine smooth, so I did it right away, assuming that it would make stirring easier while it cooked. First I processed the pumpkin, and then I used a few quick pulses to incorporate the remaining ingredients.
Since I started with less pumpkin, I kept a closer eye on it while it was cooking, and reduced the final cooking time by about 15 minutes. This adjustment isn’t hard to make since you’re opening the oven every 15 minutes or so to give the butter a stir. As you can see from the photos below, the pumpkin will cook down quite a bit and turn from a bright orange color to a darker caramel color.
- 1 sugar pumpkin, roasted with skin removed (about 2 lbs)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/2-3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2-3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4-1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger
- <1/4 tsp ground cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until the pumpkin is smooth.
- Spread the pumpkin mixture in a 9x13 inch baking pan and place in the oven. Bake the mixture, stirring every 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is thick and slightly caramelized (about 1 hour and 15 minutes).
- Cool and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Once the pumpkin butter cooled, I transferred it to a couple of jars for storage in the fridge (my one pumpkin made about a pint and a half of butter). I realized that now is a great time to tell you about one of my favorite tools in the kitchen : the large, canning funnel. If you use jars for storing dry and/or refrigerated foods, then get yourself the large funnel. It completely eliminates any mess while filling your jars and makes the job that much quicker because you don’t have to spend time aiming for a small opening with a large messy spatula.
We use pumpkin butter in many of the same ways as apple butter. Yesterday’s afternoon snacks involved spreading the pumpkin butter on fresh bread and adding a dollop to our cottage cheese and yogurt. Today I’m thinking about a cheddar cheese and pumpkin butter “combo bite”, as Alex likes to say. How will you use yours?