Introduction: Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

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I was craving apple and pumpkin butters the other day, and couldn't find an Instructable made specifically for this! Pumpkin butter is basically concentrated pumpkin flesh; by slow cooking the pumpkin with some sugar, the flavors begin to caramelize, giving it a great taste and it's brown color. It also has a much longer shelf life than a pumpkin by itself does, and to me is just as versatile. It tastes great on breads, in sauces (I made a tiramisu with it!) and is pretty enough to make a great gift.

Because pumpkin is a low-acid food, simply canning pumpkin puree can cause botulism, and we don't want that. By adding the sugar and lemon, I have increased the pH of the pumpkin to a higher acid food; the pH levels should be high enough that the risk is very low. That being said I cannot recommend you save this treat long-term! It's so tasty it doesn't last long anyway. :)

There is NO DAIRY in this butter; the name "butter" in the title merely refers to the consistency. :) Smooth and buttery. I personally crave anything with spices in it during the fall/winter months, and I really wanted something to slather on biscuits the other morning. NOMS!

So here it is. Easy pumpkin butter! It makes a really great present, and if you learn to do canning (it's really easy too) it can last for quite some time and looks pretty when packaged up nice.

As a note: using pumpkins MADE for eating yields a MUCH tastier butter than using pumpkins made for carving. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins CAN be eaten, but they are bred to be cut up and not eaten, so the flesh isn't really very tasty. I used a Queensland Blue for this recipe.

You will need:
• a pumpkin; I made two pints out of a medium sized pumpkin. (Or use canned pumpkin).
• A small lemon
• Table sugar (regular granulated or turbinado)
• Brown Sugar
• Cinnamon
• Pumpkin Pie spice (blend of cinnamon, ground ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom).

• Crock pot (or pot with lid)
• Surface to cut on
• Knife
• Jars with sealable lids

(EDIT: I'll try to get a better thumbnail preview image, I dislike this stock image one.)

If you don't want to have to cut up and roast your own pumpkin, you can use canned pumpkin puree. Make sure you aren't using "Pumpkin Pie" in a can; that already has spices added! If you're using canned pumpkin, go ahead and skip to step 3!

Step 1: Step One: Cutting and Cleaning the Pumpkin

Step One: Cutting and cleaning the pumpkin

The first step is to prepare your pumpkin.
I used the following for this step:
• Cutting board
• Sharp Knife
• Pumpkin carving knife (optional)
• Pumpkin (use a pumpkin variety made for eating for best results)

First, wash the pumpkin. Some people skip this step since we won't be using the outside of the pumpkin, but I always prefer safe to sorry. Light rinse it is! (Images 1 and 2) Now is a good time to pre-heat your oven: 350° F.

After washing, I attempted to cut through the pumpkin. Depending on the variety of your pumpkin, this might be a difficult task. I used a Queensland Blue; they have thick skin and are very "curvy," so I used a pumpkin carving knife I got during Halloween to cut through the thick skin. (Image 3)

If you have a fairly classic round pumpkin, you can cut the top off and begin scooping out the flesh first. But some pumpkins, like my Queensland Blue, are better off cutting open first to GET to the flesh and seeds!

Cut the pumpkin into pieces; they can be large, just try to have the surface as "flat" as possible. Once you've cut up the pumpkin, scoop out the stringy gut pieces and seeds. (Images 4 and 5) I used a metal ice cream scoop to just slurp out the seed goop! Works great.
(Save the seeds to roast and use this Instructable for the inner goop!)

Once all the pieces have been cleaned, cut the pieces again if you need to so that you have some "flat-ish" pieces for the next step.

Step 2: Step Two: Roasting the Pumpkin

Step Two: Roasting the pumpkin

If you haven't already, heat your oven to 350° F.
To roast the pumpkin, I placed the cut side (inner flesh) down in a pan with the skin side facing up. I then left it in the oven for about 45 minutes or so. (Photo 1 is stock photo; this is a jack-o-lantern pumpkin and not cut into as many pieces as you probably should)

Different pumpkins and different ovens will have different roasting times!
You don't want the flesh to blacken or burn, but you do want it to be fork-tender. So if you can poke the pumpkin and it is tender and soft, it's done. :)

Take the pumpkin out of the oven and let the pieces cool down until they are just cool enough to handle. Don't burn yourself! (Photo 2)

Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to scoop out the pumpkin flesh over a bowl. (Photo 3) At this point the skin might even fall off or peel away easily from the inner flesh. You can get as close to the outer flesh as you like, just don't let that get into the final product. :)

This isn't a necessary step, but if you want you can pour the flesh over a strainer or sieve to remove some of the extra juices. Some pumpkins won't even make a lot of juice! The kind I used for this Instructable didn't make much liquid. Save the liquid for making Pumpkin Liqueur or to use in recipes instead of stock or water.

If you can, run the pumpkin flesh through a food processor for a creamy smooth texture. You could also use a hand blender or a potato masher. (Photo 4)

If you want to simply make pumpkin puree (to use later for pumpkin pies or other recipes), you can stop at this part. Roasting and blending is enough. :D Either use it right away, refrigerate it for up to three or four days, or store it in the freezer up to six months! You can also can it for later use.

I didn't take good photos for this, so check out The Nourishing Gourmet's steps for roasting a pumpkin. (Some photos from Chasing Delicious, Sophistimom and The Bake-Off Flunkie.)

Step 3: Step Three: (Crock) Pot Setup

Step Three: setting up the crock pot

The second step is very easy. You'll need a crock pot, sugar, spices, and of course the pumpkin puree for this part. (Image 1) Turn the crock pot onto a low setting; I don't recommend the "warm" setting if you have it. Low is best.

Here is one of the most important things about these types of butters; spices are usually to taste. That means that you don't HAVE to use as much spice as I do. If you don't add ANY it won't really be pumpkin butter, but that's not really the point.

If you're using canned pumpkin or pre-made pumpkin puree, this is where you should tune in if you want to make butter out of it.

I got almost three cups of pumpkin puree out of the roasted pumpkin. So I'm using that as a guide for my measurements.

Here are the basic measurements I used for this batch:
• 3 cups pumpkin puree (one CAN is usually 15 ounces)
• 3 cups brown sugar
• 3+ Tablespoons lemon juice (half of a small lemon)
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices (make sure you add this slowly, in case you don't like the cloves or other spices in it).

Pour the pumpkin puree and spices into the crock pot. (Image 2) After you put all the ingredients in the pot, mix away. I used a potato masher to fully mix the spices in, and to mash down any larger pieces of the pumpkin still left. (Image 3) Cover the mixture with the crock pot lid and step away.

That's right, just leave it be! You can look through the top of the crock pot if it's clear and see how it's doing. It shouldn't be burning or smoking or anything. But other than that, you basically just let the mixture bubble down for an hour or so. :)

If you want to do this on a stovetop instead of a crock pot, you can! Combine everything in a saucepan and stir. Then bring the mix to a boil carefully watching to ensure you don't burn the pumpkin! Reduce heat to a simmer, and leave uncovered for 30 minutes or so until the mixture has started to thicken and turns more brown.

Step 4: Step Four: Cooking Down the Mixture

Step Four: cooking the pumpkin into butter

After an hour has gone by, check on the pumpkin mixture. It should have begun to cook down a bit and start to turn brown and get thicker. If it isn't, keep watching it for another hour or so.

Once it is getting thicker and darker in color, take the lid off the crock pot and leave the mixture to thicken up a little more (an hour or two longer).

After a couple hours you can see the results! It's darkened up a lot and now it's thick almost like peanut butter. OH MY!

Turn off the crock pot and let the mixture cool slightly before transferring it to jars or cans.

Step 5: Step Five: Removing the Butter

Step Five: removing the butter

After the pumpkin mix has cooked down into butter, you're going to want to store the butter; it's always good to make this in batches, so might as well store some up!

You can simply scoop out the butter, but I used a funnel and spoon. (Image 2) Set the funnel in the jar, then scoop out the pumpkin butter from the crock pot fill the jar until it the mix is about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. (Image 3)

Once jars are filled, make sure you clean the glass rims; this keeps the seal clean. (Image 4) Then I put the seal cap on, and tightened it into place with the canning cap ring.

If you're going to eat this butter fairly quickly, you can end with this step. You can refrigerate the pumpkin butter in your fridge for up to a week or so, or store it in the freezer up to six months

***Don't attempt to can and eat anything until you've read up on how to can properly; if you don't do this right you can get very, VERY sick! This recipe has a bit of lemon and enough sugar, but it still could be dangerous to can properly.***

NOTE: I no longer feature canning instructions on this Instructable, yet people can't read and keep discussing it. I am not telling you to store this butter long-term! You can see how to can apple butter by following my Apple Butter canning instructions instead.

Step 6: Step Six: Finishing Touches

Step Six: Finishing touches

I made up some rectangular labels (3" x 2") and some circular labels (2" diameter) for my jars. The 2" circle fits perfectly on the top of the jars, and the rectangular labels add a nice touch to the side of the jar. I included ingredients and a date so I'd remember when I canned these. I've included the basic image that I made to use for the jars. FEEL FREE to use these images! Top of jar label (2" circle), side of jar label (3" x2" rectangle).

These jars can make great holiday gifts, especially if you have access to a lot of good quality pumpkins to use! You can also add a nice ribbon and decorative tag around the jar, or tie down a piece of cloth over the top for an olde-charm sort of look.

Here are some other sources for recipes so you can use the pumpkin butter to its fullest!  One way to use the butter in cooking is to replace oil in recipes for sweet dishes. YUM! A great present would be a jar or two of pumpkin butter along with a tag that has a recipe or two for the butter!

• Recipes that call for jarred butters (including muffins, crème brûlèe, cookies, cheesecakes, pies, pancakes, etc)
• Pumpkin Pie French Toast
• Pumpkin Tiramisu

Hope you enjoy; I made this batch in October, and I've already used all mine up! :D I made a pumpkin tiramisu using my pumpkin butter in place of the canned pumpkin. It was *fantastic*. (My Instructable on how to make crock pot apple butter can be found here).

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