How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Butter - Easily! With Step-by-step Photos, Recipe, Directions, Ingredients and Costs

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How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Butter - Easily!

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If you have enjoyed pumpkin butter from farms stands, and wanted to make your own, but thought it might be too difficult; guess again!  These step-by-step directions will make it so simple, anyone can make better pumpkin butter and at a much lower cost.

Now, with a crockpot, it's easy! 

Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 6 months in the fridge. Note that it should NOT be stored on the shelf, unrefrigerated. I added the statement from the USDA at the bottom of this page and you can  see this page for the safety reasons why. A side benefit is that your house will smell wonderful while it is cooking - much better than potpourri!  

Directions for Making Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients and Equipment

  • 7 quarts of Pumpkin Puree (See step 1) Note: The yield is usually about 2 or 3 cups of puree per 6 inch diameter pie pumpkin! That cooks down to about half that volume in making pumpkin butter. So for 6 quarts of pumpkin butter, you'd need 5 or 6 small pie pumpkins!  Similarly for 6 pints, you'd need 3 pie pumpkins. IF
    you must use caned pumpkin, you can get organic canned pumpkin in a BPA-free can clock on the box at right:
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Allspice
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at WalMart)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Walmart)
  • 1 Crock pot (slow cooker)
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Ball jars  or other containers (Publix, WalMart carry then - about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)

Recipe and Directions

Step 1 - Make unsweetened pumpkin puree!

That's right, pumpkin butter starts with cooked pumpkin!  You can use store bought pumpkin puree, but the pumpkin butter won't taste nearly as good.  So if you haven't made some pumpkin puree yet start here with how to make pumpkin puree.  Otherwise continue to step 2.

 IF
you must use caned pumpkin, you can get organic canned pumpkin in a BPA-free can clock on the box at right:

Step 2 - Fill the crock pot

Fill the crock pot to within 2 inches full with pumpkin puree, mine takes about 5 quarts.

Step 3 -Add the spices

Add:

  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice

  • 4 cups sugar

Step 4 - Cook the Pumpkin butter

Set the crock pot on low or medium heat.  You should always start by setting the crock pot on low or medium heat.  I would recommend starting with low heat because you do not want to risk burning it! If it doesn't get hot enough to reduce in 6 - 8 hours, bump the setting up to the next position, and watch more carefully, in case that turns out to be too hot!

Cover it loosely or use a large pot splatter-guard. It will spatter as it boils slowly, so I also cover nearby surfaces with towels.  You don't want to seal it tightly because you want the steam to escape so it can reduce in volume and thicken.

Leave it to cook for 6 - 8 hours.   How long depends on the size and power of your crockpot, and how thick you like it, If you want to stir it occasionally, that's fine but not necessary.  I let mine go overnight.

It will reduce in volume by about half overnight. As it cooks down (the next morning), add the remaining pumpkin puree (about 2 or 3 quarts) and 2 more cups of sugar. Then let it cook a couple of hours more to mix the flavors.

 

Step 5 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot pumpkin butter.

Put the very hot (but not quite boiling; around 180 F, steaming water is fine)
water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Step 6 - Blend the pumpkin butter (optional)

You want a smooth, creamy texture, right? The easiest way is to use a hand-held drink blender. It does a great job of making it smooth.  You can also put it into a regular blender, but if you are going to do that, you might want to blend the pumpkin sauce before you put it in the crock pot (it will be much thicker afterwards and won't move in a regular blender).

Tips:

  • Too thick?  if the pumpkin butter cooks down too much or is too thick for your liking, just add a little bit of apple juice and blend it in.
  • Not thick enough? Just let it cook some more, with the lid off so the steam can escape!

Step 7 - Done

Fill jars or other containers. Cool the jars to near room temperature (a couple of hours)  Then pop them into the back of your fridge, or bags in your freezer!

Note about canning pumpkin butter: Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA's Extension Service published the Complete Guide to Home Canning , which remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the September 1994 revision. The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed pulp. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, "Caution: Do not mash or puree."

It is true that previous USDA recommendations had directions for canning mashed winter squash, but USDA withdrew those recommendations and any publications preceding the Complete Guide to Home Canning  (September 1994) are considered out of date.

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 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.

References


 

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs 
            to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter 
            - to remove lids from the pot 
            of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid 
           - disposable - you may only 
           use them once
  4. Ring 
          - holds the lids on the jar until after
          the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
          - to fill the jars

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