Fall is officially here, along with that crisp cool breeze I just can’t get enough of. I’ve been on an everything-autumn kick for the past week or so, and it has no signs of disappearing anytime soon. This includes, of course, sampling all sorts of pumpkin-flavored beers, baking and consuming lots of apple-crumbly goodness, a new pumpkin-yellow purse, and purchasing the mother of all rich fall meals: The CrockPot.
This item has been on my kitchen must-haves list for a while, but simply not having the storage space to stow it always put me off. But finally, this fall, inspired by an un-used Bed Bath and Beyond gift card, I caved and made the purchase. And so far, the pros have far outweighed the cons.
Along with these other fall staples is pumpkin butter. What can I say? I love the stuff. One spoonful of this amber goodness adds the flavor of fall to anything from sweet potatoes to oatmeal to plain old toast. The idea to make homemade pumpkin butter derives simply from the fact that purchasing prepared pumpkin butter will set you back a pretty penny. You could spend $7 or more on a tiny jar of the pre-made stuff, or for the same cost and a few hours of your time, you can make your own pumpkin butter and end up with cups upon cups of the stuff. I’m not kidding. In fact, I’ll be spreading pumpkin butter on everything from now until Christmas, and guess what? Not sorry. It’s just so.good.
Homemade Pumpkin Butter - Makes about 6 cups
- 1 medium sugar pumpkin, about 7-8 lbs (available at your local grocery store in the fall), peeled, cored and cubed
- 1 cup of all-natural 100% juice apple juice or cider
- 1 cup of packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of ground ginger
You will also need a crock-pot or slow-cooker and a blender.
1. To prepare your sugar pumpkin, begin by turning the pumpkin on its side and carefully removing the stem (use a very sharp knife to make this easier). Then, place the pumpkin right-side up and cut it in half. Using a large spoon, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the core (you can rinse and save the seeds for roasting too).
2. To peel the pumpkin, use either a heavy-duty vegetable peeler or a chefs knife. If using a knife, slowly trim away all orange skin and green pith from top to bottom. Be sure to remove all skin and pith as that won’t taste good in the pumpkin butter.
3. Once all of the skin is removed, cut the pumpkin into 1 inch chunks and toss in the crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cook on high for 4 hours, or until the pumpkin is soft and darker in color, stirring occasionally if desired.
4. Once the pumpkin is very soft, remove the cinnamon sticks from the mixture and puree until smooth using an immersion or upright blender. Return to the slow-cooker and continue to cook on low, uncovered for another 30 minutes to thicken slightly.
Enjoy on toast with peanut butter, on muffins, or in oatmeal! Also a great topping for pancakes or filling for cookies!