CRAVE: Pumpkin butter uses up produce, makes tasty treats

photo by: Brent Hofacker

Homemade Delicious Pumpkin Pie made for Thanksgiving

For many years I regretted, but thought unavoidable, the waste that occurred when I’d cut open a huge pumpkin or winter squash in order to make a few pies. The dilemma was solved, though, when I came across “pumpkin butter” and pumpkin butter recipes.

To make 15 to 17 quarts of the versatile spread, you’ll need about 40 pounds of pumpkin or squash, cooked and pureed, along with 2 1⁄2 to 3 quarts of honey, 6 tablespoons of cinnamon, 4 teaspoons of nutmeg, and 4 teaspoons of ground cloves.

Make sure the fruit is free of dirt, then cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy insides. If the fruit you’re using has a tough skin, the easiest way to cook it is to bake the two sections in the oven at 325 F until they’re very soft, then remove the flesh from the shells with a big spoon and puree.

Add the pureed pumpkin to your canner or a big kettle — filling the container about half full — and start it cooking.

Pumpkin butter, you’ll find, can be prepared in only an hour or two — a fraction of the time required to process apple butter.

When the spread starts to thicken, add the honey and spices, which will turn the mixture a golden brown. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings, then let the sauce simmer, stirring every so often to prevent sticking.

When it’s thick enough to support an upright wooden spoon, you’re ready to can!

After sterilizing the jars for 10 minutes and the lids for 5 minutes, pack the hot mixture to within 1 inch of the top of the containers, seal them, and process the butter for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

Once you’ve finished the canning process, you may wonder just what you’re going to do with all of that pumpkin butter. Well, don’t worry! The spread is incredibly versatile. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started.

Yeasted Pumpkin Butter Bread

Ingredients:

1⁄4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1⁄4 cup molasses

1⁄4 cup honey

1⁄2 cup melted butter

1 1⁄2 cups pumpkin butter

1⁄3 cup water or milk

3 cups whole-wheat flour, divided

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts

Dried cranberries, optional

Directions:

1. Place warm water in a measuring cup; add the yeast, and let it stand until dissolved.

2. In a large bowl, combine molasses, honey and melted butter. Stir in pumpkin butter, water, 1 cup flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Add yeast mixture, and mix well. Set aside and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Stir nuts and remaining flour into the dough, along with cranberries, if desired. Spoon mixture into a greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, and allow it to rise until it almost doubles in size.

4. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour, or until internal temperature registers 195 F.

Pumpkin Butter Pie

1 3⁄4 cups pumpkin butter

1⁄8 to 1⁄4 cup honey or molasses

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 pie crust (your favorite recipe)

Ingredients:

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin butter, honey, milk, eggs, cinnamon and cloves. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

3. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie crust, and bake for about 65 minutes, or until the custard sets. Cool on a wire rack.

Directions:

Banana-Pumpkin Butter Milkshake

Ingredients:

2 cups pumpkin butter

1 cup walnuts

4 cups milk, divided

2 bananas, frozen, peeled and cut into chunks

1. In a blender, process the pumpkin butter, walnuts and 2 cups milk until the nuts are totally shredded.

2. Add bananas and remaining milk, and blend until thoroughly combined. Serve immediately.

NOTE: For an even creamier milkshake, substitute whipping cream for some of the milk.

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