Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick Gift Idea: Pumpkin Butter

 So here we are, less than two weeks to Christmas, and you still have a few names on your gift list. And not much cash in your pocket by this point, probably. If the people you still need gifts for like good food, then Pumpkin Butter might be just the thing. It's inexpensive, quick and easy to make, and delicious, a good combination for a great gift.

I didn't haven any fresh pumpkin because mine got fed to the chickens by he-who-shall-not-be-named. So I headed to the store for a few cans, and the results were perfectly satisfactory. The recipe probably cooked up more quickly too, because the store-bought puree tends to be thicker than my homegrown kind.

What you need: pumpkin, sugar, apple juice or apple cider, ginger, cinnnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Some recipes also call for mace, but I didn't have any on hand when I made my butter. You will also need jars and lids.

4- 15-oz cans of pumpkin (not the pie mix, just plain pumpkin puree)
1 1/2 cups of apple cider or apple juice
4- teaspoons ginger
1/2- teaspoon cloves
4- teaspoons cinnamon
2- teaspoon nutmeg
3- cups granulated sugar

Wash your jars and sterilize them. Put the lids and rings in a pan of water and bring them to a boil to sterilize them too.

1) Combine all the ingredients in a 6-quart saucepan, preferably a heavy one with a thick bottom. 
2) Bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly (it will scorch pretty easily, so pay attention to it). 

3) Reduce heat to low so the mixture simmers and cook, continuing to stirring even more often, for 30 minutes or until mixture is so thick that your spoon leaves a trail behind it that does not close up. The butter will "plop" if you don't keep it stirred well, and you will have pumpkin decorating your walls and stove; since it's very hot, you will be sporting some nice little burns too. It will also scorch easily, remember. So just stand there and stir; it's worth the trouble.

4)  When your butter is thick, remove the pan from the heat and ladle the butter into your hot jars. Put the lids on, tighten them and turn them upside down to seal. 

This recipe yielded 16 half-pints of pumpkin butter, along with a bit left over for a batch of biscuits which I promptly made--and didn't get any pictures of because they disappeared too fast.

(NOTE: All recipes I have found for pumpkin butter recommend refrigerating for immediate use, or freezing for up to six months. All cautioned against trying to process and store like other jams, butters and jellies. I followed these recommendations and stored my pumpkin butter in the fridge before giving it to friends.)

Add a pretty label, a doily or round of fabric and some ribbon around the lid, and you have a lovely, homemade, inexpensive gift. (And if you're lucky, the giftee will return your jar for future use.)


Dinetonite said...

I've been searching for the perfect satay recipe for a while now... shall have to give yours a try!

Country Whispers said...

This looks wonderful. I can just taste it on a warm biscuit or toast. Yum!

Granny Sue said...

I think anyone who likes pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread would like this, Jessica. And it truly is as easy to make as it sounds.

If you try it let me know. Dinetonite.

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