It officially feels like the holiday season, and that means presents. I suppose it’s a sign of maturity that I think more about what I can give than what I will receive. Giving feels good, so it’s a little selfish, but it’s the best kind of selfish there is.
I have a number of homemade recipes I make in batches all season long to give to friends and family when I come to visit. Everyone expects gifts at Christmas, but to show up to a friend’s door in October, with a pretty ball jar filled with homemade pumpkin butter? That’s something unexpected and special.
Pumpkin puree is one of the few cans that I open consistently. Yes, there is a time and place for roasting your own pumpkins, like when you want to use caramelized wedges in a salad or simmer into a soup. There is the fun option of doing a stuffed pumpkin, a hearty vegetarian offering for Thanksgiving, like Dorie Greenspan shows us.
However, on a regular basis I go for the all-natural, unsweetened canned pumpkin that is so plentiful and convenient. Once the early, crisp days of October close in, we all go a little pumpkin fanatic. Let’s be honest, give someone a piece of moist pumpkin bread and they will be your friend. It’s a flavor we all savor as the days grow shorter and the sun grows shy.
This is my recipe for spiced pumpkin butter, and it’s so good you will want to eat it with a spoon. I have, more often than not.
It has a fraction of the sugar you will find in most store-bought versions, and no preservatives… you can’t beat that. I simply cook the pumpkin puree down with really good apple juice (I love Red Jacket’s fuji apple juice, but you can use any all-natural juice or cider), sultry spices and the spicy candied ginger that lends such a beautiful, complex flavor. There is no biscuit, scone, toast, bowl of oatmeal, cup of yogurt, or fresh apple that would not welcome this spread.
For more fun ideas about how to use canned pumpkin this fall, check out Bon Appetit’s feature HERE. As for me, I plan to pay visits to a few friends this week and make their breakfasts a bit more delicious.
Spiced Pumpkin Butter
MAKES 3 ½-4 CUPS
1 29 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 cup all natural apple juice or cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons candied ginger, finely minced
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Once the first bubbles appear, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if it appears slightly looser than you’d like, the mixture firms up a bit as it cools.
Transfer to jars and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Pumpkin butter will keep like this for about a month. Don’t worry, it won’t last long enough for its expiration date to expire.