Monday, October 6, 2008

On Pumpkins to Eat:

I woke up feeling a lot better this morning. Thank you to those that wished me get well messages. Being Autumn I also have had some emails about my Pumpkin butter instructions and recipe from friends and family so I decided to put it here for everyone to enjoy. I’ve been told it’s a fun read even if you never make it. I followed it with a Quick method for those that don’t have much time in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Butter - Careful the flavor can be addictive.

To start with I will warn you that this is a big job. If you don’t have the time to do it all in one or two days feel free to freeze what you have done until you can get to the rest of the job. It’s a lot of time and work.

Cooking pumpkins have less strings, more meat to them and are sweeter. But jack-o-lantern pumpkins will do in a pinch just remember to add extra sugar if you use them.

There are a couple of ways to skin a pumpkin. 1 - 3 pumpkins are still a lot of work. I do 6 - 8 at a time with my husbands help and it’s still a huge job with more than enough work to go around. It’s up to you if you go for the large job once or smaller job more often. I have used all of these methods at one time or another, or in combination over the years. They have their ups and downs. (You know, like not enough room in the freezer…?)

Freezer method
Quarter and core (Clean out the pulp.) the pumpkin. Put them on a cookie sheet and freeze then thaw it to soften them enough to peal them.

Oven method
Quarter and core pumpkin . Put them in large baking dishes with 1 inch of water in it. Bake at a low temp 200/250 until just starting to dry or brown around the edges, an hour or so and it is softened enough to peal them.

Muscle method (A favorite to expel frustration, or make it, along with blisters. Lots of blisters.)
Quarter and core pumpkin. Using a large heavy knife (or cleaver if you can control it really well) slice pumpkin into 2 inch slices. Lay the slices on their sides on a cutting board and slice the skin off. (I’m not kidding here. Now go and take care of your blisters.)

Easy puree method
Cut in chunks and puree in a blender or food processor with the least amount of water to get the job done.

Longer puree method
Cut in chunks and put in a large pot add water just enough to stir and cook chunks down until puree. Strain out what won’t cook down and any strings that are left. This takes time and you must stir it regularly to keep it from burning.

Pumpkin Butter
The size of the pumpkin(s) determines the amount of puree you’ll get. On the side, in a bowl have the sugar and spice measured out (or a least a written calculation of how much you’ll need). Per quart of puree you’ll need ½ to 1 cup of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Depending on how sweet you like it. And 1 to 2 Tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice. More if you like things spicy.

Pumpkin pie spice recipe
2 Tablespoons cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon each of cloves, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.

Cook the pumpkin puree down to get the extra water out. It takes hours. In the beginning you only have to stir it occasionally but as it thickens you need to watch that it doesn’t scorch. (The taste goes right through it.) If you put the sugar and spice in at this stage it scorches even easier so wait until later.

(Some people put the puree in baking dishes in the oven on low over night to thicken it.)
To help reduce the time on the stove top you can spread the puree around in as many large surface pans as you can. The more surface area the more steam escapes and the faster it thickens. The more pots the more stirring. (I can get away with this easily because I do it on a wood cook stove and I know that not everyone has this modern convenience.) Then as it reduces you can move it all down to one pot. You want to cook it down to a spreading consistency. After It thickly coats the back of the spoon add sugar and spice.
I test the consistency by putting about 3 tablespoons in a small glass dish that can take the heat and lower it into cool, not cold, water to cool it off quicker. It will get a little thicker when cooled so check it so you don’t have to cook it any longer than you have to. You’ve been cooking long enough by now. When it is thick enough to spread your finally done with this part and ready to can all your hard work!!!

Do to the fact that pumpkin is an edible gourd or squash and not a fruit it needs to be processed in the canner a lot longer. I do mine in ½ pints and pints. The same canning directions apply for both.

Pressure canner
One hour at 10 pounds pressure. Or check with your canners directions.

Steam or water bath canners
Remember to add more boiling water as needed and stream for 180 min or 3 hours.

Enjoy! You deserve it. You did the work.

If you don’t have the pumpkins or just don’t have the time to do all that work I have added a quick recipe using the canned pumpkin from the store.

Pumpkin Butter - Quick Recipe

1 can plain processed Pumpkin 15oz. (Not the pumpkin with all the ingredients in it ready for pie, you need to cook that.)
1/ 2 to 1 cup of Sugar (or Honey or Maple syrup) to taste.
2 or more Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice (If you don’t have the premixed stuff the recipe for spice to follow.)
1/ 4 cup water

In sauce pan heat water, sugar and spices until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
Add can of plain Pumpkin and mix well (Add more water only to make it a spreadable consistence, careful you don’t want it runny.) If you do add too much water you can cook it on low heat stirring it constantly to keep it from scorching until the excess water is gone.
Store in covered container in frig.

Pumpkin Pie Spice - 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 Tablespoon each of cloves, ginger, allspice and nutmeg.
Mix well and store in air tight container.

Pumpkin pie spice can be added to cookies, cakes, puddings, and other dishes like sweet potatoes.

Eat Pumpkin Butter like you would Apple Butter and I also have it on pound cake, on oatmeal and over ice cream. I’ve even added it to my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe and made pumpkin cookies with it.

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