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The temperatures have finally started to cool down, the next week should be in the 70’s with possible rain. It’s starting to feel like fall around here. Autumn is by far my favorite season. I love the cooler temps and windy/rainy weather more than I love the 90 degree temps (or more often 105+ in my area).
Also something to be excited about…sugar pumpkins are out!
I may be the last person to realize, but you don’t eat those big pumpkins. I always assumed that you could either carve them or use them for pies. Turns out they are grown specifically for carving and not meant to be eaten (the seeds are the exception). You actually want to purchase Sugar Pumpkins or Pie Pumpkins for baking and pumpkin goodies. They are the smaller pumpkins that typically run about 1-2 lbs.
This year I bought two for the best treat of all…Pumpkin Butter! (Finally, right?! I’ve only been promising you this recipe for a year).
I’ve recently made pumpkin butter out of canned puree and fresh pumpkins. The texture is the same, so you can actually use either type of pumpkin you prefer. I can usually find pumpkin puree year round in the grocery store, so I’d go with the novelty of the Sugar/Pie Pumpkin if they are in season.
In this recipe I chose not to use the standard Pumpkin Pie spice, and measured out separate spices which led to a ‘spicier’ flavor profile, mostly due to the ginger. You can cut back on the ginger if you prefer a less spicy butter. Or add 1/2 up front, then add the rest later on if you’d like.
To add extra flavor, in place of water, I used apple juice. I also threw a few cinnamon sticks into the crock pot while the butter cooked down. I later added a little more cinnamon for taste.
Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves…Smelled like Thanksgiving!
To my knowledge, there is no super easy way to cut up a pumpkin. This is the best way I know how and it works pretty well. It will still be a bit messy, but it’s rather quick. I use the same technique for melons and pineapple.
Cut off the top and bottom of the pumpkin using a sharp knife [insert knife safety discussion here, I don’t want anyone losing a finger!].
Set the gourd on it’s end and start cutting down the side to remove the rind. This takes a little concentration since the pumpkin will start to fold on itself a bit.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL.
Once you have all the outside cut off, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Then chop the meat into chunks.
Toss the pumpkin with the sugar and spices.
Don’t throw out those seeds! I was surprised, there were a ton of seeds in those little pumpkins. These would make a great snack when roasted and seasoned!
Spiced Crockpot Pumpkin Butter
Makes: About 2 pints
- Meat of 2 Sugar/Pie Pumpkins
- 1/2 Cup Apple Juice
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (I used light brown)
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks, plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Remove the rind of the pumpkin, and scoop out the seeds. Chop the meat of the pumpkin into 1 inch chunks.
2. Toss the sugar and ground spices with the chopped pumpkin.
3. Add the pumpkin mixture to the Crockpot. Add the apple juice and cinnamon sticks. Set the Crockpot on low and close the lid.
4. Let the pumpkin cook overnight or while your at work (about 8 hours). When soft enough, remove the cinnamon sticks, and use an immersion blender to mash the pumpkin into a puree. You can also use a blender, food process, or even a potato masher for this step. Add the 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and stir to combine.
5. Change the Crockpot temperature to high and vent or remove the lid. Let the mixture cook down until very thick, there should be no visibly liquid/water left. I cooked it on high for about 3 hours, but this step can vary per batch. Your batch may need more or less than 3 hours.
6. Once it’s done, let it cool. Depending on your preference you may want to blend it for a smoother consistency. I used a magic bullet to blend the mixture. I will warn you, since the finished product is so thick (you’ve cooked most of the water out at this point), you may need to add a bit of water to the blender. Add a tablespoon as a time if necessary to help the mixture blend more easily.
Test it out right away and spread it on a piece of bread/toast. Absolutely delicious!
Of course you could also spread it on pancakes or waffles, mix into yogurt or pudding, or use it in place of jelly in a PB & J…the possibilities are endless.
My favorite way is to mix it in with some Greek yogurt and walnuts.
You can ‘Can’ this recipe and save for a future date, or pour into clean canning jars and keep in your fridge. Fruit butters typically keep for about a month if closed tightly and kept in the fridge [I bet you eat it long before that!].
Hope you enjoy as much I do.