Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fresh Homemade Pumpkin Butter

Can you imagine anything more delicious than slathering fresh from the oven biscuits in a rich homemade pumpkin butter? Me either. And holy smokes, this recipe is a winner. I couldn't resist, I just had to make a batch. After doing some research on home-canning, I found a lot of information against canning pumpkin (all of it listed below). I love my family too much to infect them with botulism. So instead, I decided to make a small batch that can be refrigerated and I knew I'd want to share it too.

Here's a quick stovetop recipe.

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.

Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Here's a slow cooked pumpkin butter recipe:

2 cups of cooked, pureed fresh pumpkin (or you can use a 15oz can of pumpkin if you don't want to use fresh)

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Spray your slowcooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in crock-pot and stir to mix well. Cook on High for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. It will thicken as it cooks. Do not let it burn or stick. Transfer to a container and keep in the refrigerator.

This would be a fabulous hostess gift or maybe a gift for a neighbor. I plan to make a batch of homemade biscuits for the office with a jar of this as a breakfast treat.

“Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash, but we do have directions for canning cubed pumpkin. Pumpkin puree can be frozen or made into a spicy pumpkin leather…
There are not sufficient data available to allow establishing safe processing times for any of these types of products. It is true that previous USDA recommendations had directions for canning mashed winter squash, but USDA withdrew those recommendations…
Some of the factors that are critical to the safety of canned pumpkin products are the viscosity (thickness), the acidity and the water activity. Studies conducted at the University of Minnesota in the 1970's indicated that there was too much variation in viscosity among different batches of prepared pumpkin purees to permit calculation of a single processing recommendation that would cover the potential variation among products (Zottola et. al, 1978). Pumpkin and winter squash are also low-acid foods (pH > 4.6) capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause the very serious illness, botulism, under the right storage conditions. If the bacteria are present and survive processing, and the product has a high enough water activity, they can thrive and produce toxin in the product.
More recent research with pumpkin butter has been done at the University of Missouri. Pumpkin butter is mashed or pureed pumpkin that has had large quantities of sugar added to it, but not always enough to inhibit pathogens. Sometimes an ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice is added to the formulation to increase the acidity (decrease the pH). However, pumpkin butters produced by home canners and small commercial processors in Missouri have had pH values as high as 5.4. In fact, the pH values seemed to be extremely variable between batches made by the same formulation (Holt, 1995). It is not possible at this point to evaluate a recipe for pumpkin or mashed squash for canning potential by looking at it. At this point, research seems to indicate variability of the products is great, and in several ways that raise safety concerns. It is best to freeze pumpkin butters or mashed squash.”
Obviously, pumpkin pie filling is essentially “pureed pumpkin” and similar to pumpkin butter. This means that neither the cooked pumpkin puree nor the pumpkin pie filling (puree plus sugar and spices) would be candidates for safe home canning.
The University of Illinois Extension also says: “Canning pumpkin butter not a good idea, but try pieces or freezing. “


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