Pumpkin butter has been called pumpkin pie in a jar, and though it can’t technically be called fruit butter because pumpkin is a winter squash, it falls into this class of preserved spreads. It is essentially cooked pumpkin that is pureed and combined with sugar and spices common in pumpkin pie, like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Its very thick texture is similar to butter, hence the name.
The cooking process of pumpkin butter does change the color, and most butters end up a very dark orange or brown color. There are some uncooked recipes of pumpkin butter that retain the color but these cannot be canned and need to be kept in the fridge and used quickly. Most traditional butters call for cooking of the pumpkin with spices and sugar to create a thick wonderful mixture that is excellent as a spread.
When cooks are planning to can pumpkin butter, they do need to search carefully for recipes where this is suitable. Some recipes are very low acid and won’t work well if cans are to be kept outside of the fridge. Look specifically for those recipes with canning instructions.
Pumpkin choice is another part of making pumpkin butter. In general people should select pie pumpkins, with sugar pie pumpkins being among the best choices. These are smaller and weigh about three to five pounds (1.36-2.27 kg). Though some people use larger jack o’lantern style pumpkins, they are not as sweet or flavorful and texture can sometimes be a problem. For large recipes though, it can take several sugar pie pumpkins to get enough cooked pumpkin, and some people turn to canned pumpkin instead, which is fine.
It isn’t necessary to make homemade pumpkin butter. People may find this butter at a variety of places, and it has become so popular that a few companies like Trader Joes® make their own for sale. A lot of farms that sell pumpkins during the fall may also have butters available and the butter is fairly easy to find in specialty stores.
For those who love pumpkin or pumpkin pie, this butter can be a revelation. Many people find it truly delicious and so different from the numerous fruit spreads they might ordinarily use. It is excellent on a variety of toasts or breads, and some people enjoy it on granola or as a topping to yogurt. Fans of pumpkin ice cream may revel in topping vanilla ice cream with a dollop of pumpkin butter.
There are also recipes that call for pumpkin butter. Pumpkin cheesecake may require it. Some cakes are made even more delicious when this added. Muffins or waffles may contain the butter, and thumbprint cookies can be made that have their centers filled with this spicy spread.