I know you’re wondering if I’ve totally lost my mind with pumpkin recipes in March, but when I said (in my last pumpkin mole post) we have 70 pounds of sugar pie pumpkins that are in dire need of attention or they’re headed straight to the compost pile, I wasn’t kidding.
I’ve always disliked pumpkin butter. It just looks awful. But out of need to extend the season here at Echo Valley Farm, I thought I should bite the bullet and give it a go.
Here’s what I learned: pumpkin butter is fabulous – I love it! I use it in yeasted bread with rosemary, on pancakes with maple syrup, and as a sauce for pizza topped with gorgonzola, caramelized onions, & arugula.
Pumpkin butter should no longer be home canned according to the new USDA ruling due to its density that makes it difficult to guarantee an internal temperature of 240˚F. There is still a chance of botulism because of this. Better to be safe than sorry.
But that’s okay, because we are striving for foods sold fresh or frozen here at Echo Valley Farm. Why go to the trouble to grow all these gorgeous fruits and vegetables and then completely cook away all the nutrients?
Pumpkin butter is pumpkin purée from roasted sugar pie pumpkins that is blended and cooked down over low heat until it is thick. I add agave nectar, honey,ginger, all-spice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, a little apple cider vinegar to give it some character and lemon juice to help preserve the color. I add all this to taste.
Understanding the yield of pumpkin to purée is more helpful than an exact recipe: 10 pounds of sugar pie pumpkins (about 3 medium size pumpkins) yields about 2 quarts of roasted pumpkin purée.
To roast pumpkins, simply cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place flesh down on a baking sheet and cook at 400˚F for 30 minutes or until they are very soft. Scoop out flesh and blend up with just enough water to help it along. Cook purée down for at least 20 minutes on low heat stirring constantly until it is very thick and reduced to about 1 1/2 quarts. Add sugar (or agave, honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar) and spices to your liking and intended use.
I made a chinese five-spice pumpkin butter once that received interesting polarized responses on the farm. Now I tend to stick with the spices mentioned above or add herbs from the garden like sage, thyme, or rosemary.