As of Friday, I was still trying to decide what I wanted to can this weekend, and then Jared brought home a bunch of little pie pumpkins that his work wasn't going to use for an art project. We started processing the pumpkins after going to to the pumpkin patch on Saturday afternoon. It was a family affair.
I've never made pumpkin pulp before. Every time I've baked anything pumpkin, I've used the canned stuff. So, Jesse helped scoop 1/2 of a pumpkin, and Micah just wanted to hold and sniff a pumpkin half, and take little licks of the inside when he thought we weren't looking. (I don't think that he was too impressed with the taste. ha ha!) Jared gutted the rest of the pumpkins. We cut the pumpkins into chunks and lined them up on 2 large jelly roll pans.
We covered them with foil, then baked them at 375 degrees for just shy of 2 hours, and scooped out the pulp. We blended the pulp until smooth using a hand blender. Then, I looked for at a couple of recipes and tweaked one a bit to come up with my own (because I'm a rebel like that!). 16 hours in a crock pot, and a bit of canning, and we've got....
Pumpkin Butter (in a crock pot)
9 pie pumpkins, cooked, pulp removed, and blended until smooth (see above) ***
Juice from 5 small lemons
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup apple cider
4 cups sugar2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Place half of the pumpkin pulp into a large crock pot with all of the other ingredients. Make sure you have at least 2 inches of room at the top of the crock pot. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Place the lid on top, but do not seal or close tightly. You want the steam to escape. Cook the pumpkin on high for 5-6 hours or until the pulp has halved in volume. You can stir the pulp, but it's not necessary. I let mine cook overnight. Add the rest of the pulp, and continue to cook the pumpkin until it's thick and dark brownish-orange - approximately 5 more hours. Use a hand blender to smooth out the mixture once more.
The USDA says that pumpkin cannot be safely canned because the acidity of pumpkins varies so much...so spoon hot pumpkin butter into jars that have been run through a dishwasher with "heated dry" or boiled in a pot of water for 10 minutes. You want to have the pumpkin butter about the same temperature as the jars. Top with lids. Let jars cool on a towel-lined counter top. Store pumpkin butter in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Makes approximately 12 pints of pumpkin butter.
There's not much that I wouldn't eat this yummy pumpkin-y goodness on. So far, we've tried it on crackers, pretzels, apples slices, pumpkin pancakes, bagels with cream cheese...but I'm thinking that it would be pretty amazing on a cheesecake, or on muffins, or how about chocolate chip banana bread? YUMMY!!!! Happy canning!!!
***If making your own pumpkin pulp seems like too much work (it is a bit labor-intensive), you can always substitute a couple of cans of already prepared pumpkin pulp. Just make sure it's not pumpkin pie filling.