Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Maple Pumpkin Butter

Sugar and spice are exactly what is nice about pumpkin butter.
Well, maple syrup and spices.
Pumpkin butter is my favorite, but apple butter is a close second. Some stores carry jarred fruit butters, including pumpkin, apple, cherry, apricot and others, if you don't want to make your own. Fruit butter is smoother, creamier and less sweet than jam. more concentrated fruitiness. It is a type of preserve made by cooking fruit until an almost butter-like consistency is reached, hence the name. The fruit flavor is very concentrated because, compared with many jams, not too much sugar is added, allowing the natural fruitiness and sweetness to come through. You can use it as a dip for crackers or fruit or as a spread on toast. I don't know if it will replace real butter as the toast-topper of choice, but it makes an excellent pairing or alternative (on occasion). There are many options, besides dressing up toast, that you can do with fruit butter, too. Try stirring it into a bowl of oatmeal on a cook morning or adding a spoonful to a batch of pancake batter for extra flavor. You can use it in sandwiches, or anywhere else you might use jam.
Making fruit butter is very easy: cook, puree, flavor and cook until thick. Once it is ready, you can can it in sterilised jars or store it covered in the fridge, if you are planning to use it in the next week or so. The level of sweetness and amount of spice can easily be controlled when you're making your own preserves or any sort, so this is highly customisable. Because I have been known to substitute pumpkin butter for pumpkin puree on occasion, I like to keep the spices on the mild side, but you can bring it up to pumpkin pie levels if you prefer.
Don’t feel limited by this method. See it as a guideline and change the spices or sweetness as you like it.

Maple Pumpkin Butter
For each pound of cooked pumpkin (boiled until very tender) use ¼ cup maple syrup, 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spices and ½ tsp vanilla.

Slice pumpkin and remove the pulp and skin. Boil pumpkin until very tender and drain the water. Allow pumpkin to cool for at least 15-20 minutes. Process pumpkin in food processor, scraping down the sides occasionally, until very, very smooth. This will probably take a few minutes. Add in maple syrup, pumpkin pie spices and vanilla. Process for an additional minute. Return mixture to the sauce pan and cook, over low heat, until it bubbles. If your pumpkin is young, dense and fresh, this may not take very long because there will not be a lot of extra water in your butter. When butter is thick and has bubbled, transfer to sterilized jars. If you plan to use it within the next week or so, you may simply store it, covered, in the refrigerator.