Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Butter


From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We've had large, carving pumpkins in local farmer's markets for weeks now, but this weekend I saw the first of the sugar pumpkins I like to use for baking. Pumpkins are everywhere, and that started me thinking about how they got their name. I guessed it came from England but I was wrong. It originated with the Greeks whose word "pepon" which means large melon. The French played with the word, changed it to "pompon", and passed it on to the English who immediately changed it to "pumpion." As a matter of fact, you'll find references to "pumpion" in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. By the time of our forefather's first Thanksgiving, the large orange squash was called a pumpkin. While pumpkin pie originated in the American colonies, the first pumpkin pie was not a pie as we know it today. The colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey and baked it in hot ashes. Chances are it was very stringy and bland, but the pumpkin was a major source of food for the colonists. Edward Johnson, who wrote the History of New England (1654), thought it important enough to share this admonition, "And let no man make a jest at Pumpkins, for with this fruit the Lord was pleased to feed his people to their good content, till Corne and Cattell were increased." Needless to say, the stern old Pilgrim didn't mention the jack-o-lanterns which people had been making for centuries.

The practice of carving pumpkins originated with an Irish myth about a man called Stingy Jack who invited the Devil to have a drink with him. Jack didn't want to pay for the drinks, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that could be used to buy their drinks. The Devil agreed but Jack had a change of heart and decided to keep the coin in his pocket along with a silver cross that prevented the Devil from assuming his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would cause Jack no harm for a year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until he promised Jack he would not bother him for ten more years. Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the tricks Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

Now back to cooking. When selecting a pumpkin for cooking, your best choice is a "pie pumpkin" or "sweet pumpkin." These are smaller than carving pumpkins and the flesh is sweeter and less watery. It should have a stem that 1 to 2 inches long. Anything less than that will cause the pumpkin to decay quickly. Shape is not important but avoid those that have blemishes and soft spots. You'll need one pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin for each cup of finished pumpkin puree. To make the puree, remove the stem, cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and fibrous mass and cut the pumpkin into large chunks. I steam mine for about 12 minutes, or until it's fork tender. It could also be boiled, baked or microwaved if you prefer. When it's tender and cool enough to handle, remove the peel with a knife and your fingers. Puree the pumpkin using a food processor, blender or food mill. If you don't want to bother with this, buy a can of solid pack pumpkin and use that instead.

I made pumpkin butter this weekend. My favorite recipe is an old one developed by Martha Stewart and I suspect you've seen it before. I made one small change to her recipe. It calls for 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. I thought the cloves made last year's batch too bitter, so I cut the measure to 1/4 teaspoon cloves and added 1/4 teaspoon mace to keep the recipe in balance. It's a lovely recipe and, yes, you can used canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin Butter
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:

1 (28-oz.) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon mace
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

Directions:
1) Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes, or until mixture thickens. I cook mine until a spoon pulled through middle of mixture leaves a trail that does not close in upon itself. If you plan to use immediately, let cool to room temperature. Pack into storage containers and refrigerate for up to a month. Pumpkin butter can also be frozen for up to 6 months. Yield: 3 cups.

51 comments:

Debinhawaii said...

Such a bright and pretty color--perfect for fall.

Mary said...

I am much too lazy to start with a whole pumpkin so I always used canned pumpkin pie filling or puree whatever I cook. Interesting how they used to cook in the pumpkin itself. Not like what we're used to, but I'll bet that it was tasty!

The pumpkin butter sounds wonderful.

Carol said...

Sounds absolutely yummy. We head back to Florida November 1st to a real kitchen. I can't wait to try some of your wonderful recipes for the holidays.

Carol at Serendipity

A Year on the Grill said...

A great post. I love the stries you always seem to have. I especially liked the legend of Jack...

But, I am a foodie newbie...

What is a sugar pumpkin, and how can you tell the difference? I have never heard that word

Martha said...

Interesting story -- have heard parts of it before -- don't you love the celts and their tales?

The cool days and even cooler nights had me thinking pumpkin as well -- made pumpkin bread yesterday!

I've not made pumpkin butter, however, but yours looks interesting and I may have to give it a try!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I have never heard of pumpkin butter, what a great idea!
Would you use it on toast like apple butter?

My Little Space said...

Great colour! I've never try pumpkin puree in this way. Looks wonderful! How do you keep them?

Cathy said...

Don't know if I'm ambitious enough to start from scratch and may use canned pumpkin instead. I'll bet this is yummy on a warm scone.

The Apple Hill Adventurer said...

pumpkin butter and apple butter are my two favorite spreads EVER. this seems like a nice spicy recipe :)

Shelia said...

Hi Mary! Oh, I've had apple butter, but never pumpkin butter. I'm sure this is so wonderful! Thank you for your visit.
Be a sweetie,
shelia ;)

Michelle said...

Mary-I just love all the information you always research out and provide with your recipes, it is so interesting to read. Have a great week.

Kevin said...

Nice photo! The colour is amazing!

Maria said...

I need to make this to put on our whole wheat toast!

George Gaston said...

Mary... I have never made Pumpkin Butter before, but reading through your recipe and your delightful story ~ I am going to have to give it a try.

Many thanks for all your creative and delicious post...

Mary said...

My Little Space. I put mine in 1-cup containers that I process in a boiling water bath. Put by in this fashion they can be stored in the pantry for about 18 months. One the jar is open it must be refrigerated.
If you don't want to can, refrigerate or freeze.

Mary said...

Year on the Grill, sugar pumpkins are about the size of a child's bowling ball. Ask the produce guy to identify them for you. Once you've seen them you won't forget them. He might also be able to make another recommendation for you.

Mary said...

Natashya, it can be spread on toast or pound cake. Anywhere you use apple butter you can use pumpkin butter.

Foley said...

This is a new one for me - have never had pumpkin butter before, you hve me curious!
Enjoyed the history behind the pumpkin, still love to learn at my age!

Pam said...

Oh Mary - this takes me back to my childhood. I love pumpkin butter, I can't wait to make this.

Fairy Footprints said...

Oh that pumpkin butter looks so delicious. Hope this day is finding you well.

Blessings,
Heidi

Debbie said...

Sounds delicious and so does the pumpkin lasagne. Love the story on the origin of Jack O'Lanterns. I had never heard that before!

LV said...

I have never had pumpkin butter. However, pumpkins are not one of my favorite foods. However, you make everthing sound good.

Claudia said...

I knew the story behind the jack o' lantern but little about the pumpkin. That was fun! And the butter looks mouth-watering. I'd like to spread that on some autumn harvest bread right now.

Helene said...

Absolutely delicious. I have never seen pumpkin butter before :)

Tessa said...

I saw pumpkin butter at Williams Sonoma and thought I should make some homemade but totally forgot about it until now! I think I'll have to make it :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Mary thank-you! I will be making this asap!

Laura

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That is a great story about the jack o' lanterns! Thanks for sharing. I adore pumpkin butter and really enjoy in my yogurt.

Boo-Bah said...

I loved reading all the information you gave. The legend of the Jack O' Lantern was so interesting.I don't think I have ever heard of Pumpkin Butter. Your suggestion of spreading it on pound cake sounds really nice.

Iris

Lori said...

I canned this two years ago. I needed to get a jar of it from downstairs to enjoy on some toast in the morning. (This is one of the few times I have had something on hand that I saw on a blog and craved). Love it.

Velva said...

I learned something about pumpkins today. Thanks!
The pumpkin butter looked so divine. Served up with a few toasted muffins and a cup of coffee-YUM!

Julia said...

That looks so yummy. I'll be making apple butter this weekend but I've never tried pumpkin butter. Thanks for sharing.

Diann @ The Thrifty Groove said...

Thanks for the info on pumpkins! I might just have to tempt this recipe. My husband LOVES pumpkin everythng!

Taste of My Life said...

Interesting Pumpkin stories and the Pumpkin Butter must be wonderful with toast. I must tell one of my good friend to try this recipe together as she is a pumpkin lover and she had a small pumpkin farm....

Barbara said...

That photo is gorgeous. You want to reach out with a spoon! This is my first visit to your blog- I loved this post.

Karen said...

Interesting pumpkin history! I love pumpkin butter and used a real pumpkin once... much more trouble than canned and I could barely tell the difference in taste. Since then it's been canned pumpkin all the way!

Mary said...

Barbara, welcome to my hideaway. I hope you'll visit with us often.

jenn said...

My boyfriend and I recently used pumpkin butter to make a brown butter for pumpkin gnocchi - it was basically the best sauce we've ever made:

http://myboyfriendcooksforme.blogspot.com/2009/10/tonight-we-decided-to-revisit-making.html

next time we'll have to make the pumpkin butter ourselves...

Katy ~ said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous color, and don't I just love all the warm spices that are included. I've never had pumpkin butter so I welcomed your response to another poster on how to use it. I really like pumpkin so this looks super delicious to me.

Ginger said...

Pumpkin Butter is my favorite! If you canned any you can send a "little" jar my way? KIDDING!! I am pretty sure that your photos can't get any BETTER!! I am definitely going to make a batch of this!!

Belease said...

What a lovely blog! I love this idea and I'll be sure to keep checking back!

Megan said...

I bet this made the whole house smell wonderful. It looks so good in that picture. I'll have to give this one a try.

girlichef said...

Delicious! I'm definitely trying this soon! :D

Maggie said...

I think I need to make this immediately. Yum!

Nina said...

YUM-O, looks delicious! I am going to attempt making this!

Thank you for sharing.
Nina

Miriam said...

I LOVE pumpkin butter and I use only freshly pureed pumpkin (my neighbors all have beautiful gardens and they share with me). Delicious sounding recipe, I'll be trying it in the next week :). Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Apron Appeal said...

We LOVE pumpkin butter. I never even thought I'd be able to make my own. Why? because I'm lame that way. I always thought I would need a butter churn (no butter in pumpkin butter) or an apple press...so long as I don't press my own cider...I CAN DO THIS!

Lisa said...

Can you tell me what to serve with this for spreading on? Have never made pumpkin butter but cant wait to!

Mary said...

Lisa, try it on toast or breakfast rolls. Some folks like to use it as a dip. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

Can you freeze in glass jars?

Mary said...

I've never tried to freeze this. I suspect freezing will change the texture of the pumpkin butter and not for the better. Have a good day. Blessings...Mary

Choclette said...

Hi Mary, thanks for this recipe. I made a batch yesterday sort of based on your instructions and have just posted about it.

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