For fans of pumpkin and all things autumn, pumpkin butter is a treat. I made a batch last year and took it along to work with a fresh loaf of homemade sourdough bread and a colleague described it as “a warm hug on a cold day”.
I’ve taken to gifting pumpkin butter to friends and family. It’s one of those things that feels luxurious and special, but it’s ridiculously easy to make. Given that pumpkin butter is something not found in stores—at least not around here—it doubles as a gift for those hard-to-buy-for people in your life.
Despite its name, there’s no butter or any kind of dairy in pumpkin butter. It’s basically pumpkin cooked to the point where it’s spreadable like butter.
Making pumpkin butter
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, dump in a 15oz can of pumpkin puree—or if you make your own pumpkin puree, put an equivalent amount in the pot. For us metric system folks, 15oz is just shy of two cups, so you could just put in two cups and not worry about the 1oz extra.
To this, add half a cup of apple juice—I used my own apple juice that I canned from a friend’s apple tree this past summer—two-thirds cup of brown sugar, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and an eighth of a teaspoon each of ground cloves, ground ginger, and salt.
When I got to the brown sugar part of this recipe is when I discovered I didn’t have any in the house. John had done some baking a few weeks ago and must have used the last of it. Unfortunately, we’re in the midst of a sugar shortage here in Western Canada. Most (or all?) of our sugar comes from Rogers / Lantic, and they’ve been on strike since sometime in September. Nowadays you’re lucky to find sugar in the grocery store…right as we enter into Christmas baking season. All of this is to say that I didn’t bother heading down to the grocery store to pick up a bag of brown sugar since I knew chances of me finding some were slim to none.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix for this—I had white sugar and molasses on hand, and brown sugar is literally just white sugar and molasses combined.
Since pumpkin butter isn’t a baking recipe that requires exact ratios of ingredients, I didn’t get too exact with the white sugar and molasses ratios. I put in the equivalent amount of white sugar, two thirds of a cup, and then poured in several tablespoons of molasses.
Once everything is in the pot, give it a big stir to mix it all up, then turn on the stove, bring it to a boil, and then partially cover it, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about twenty minutes until it’s thick and glossy. You’ll want to stir it regularly with a rubber or silicone spatula so you can scrape the bottom of the pot to ensure nothing is sticking and burning.
Once you’ve reached your desired consistency—and do feel free to let it cook a little longer if you find it’s not thick enough yet—remove the pot from the heat and let the pumpkin butter cool. Once it’s fully cool, you can transfer it to containers or jars for storage. I like to use one-cup mason jars as this allows me to put one jar in the fridge and the rest in the freezer, so I don’t have to worry about a big jar of it going bad before I can finish it all.
In the fridge, pumpkin butter should last a few weeks. In the freezer, you’ll get at least a few months.
Enjoying pumpkin butter
I find that pumpkin butter tastes like pumpkin pie filling, which shouldn’t be too surprising—after all, it’s made with pumpkin, sugar, and some of the spices found in pumpkin pie.
I like to eat it on my morning toast or on a bagel. It’s nice enough that it could be part of a mid-day snack or even a dessert. A scoop of pumpkin butter on top of a flaky buttery (but plain) pastry would be lovely.
- 1 Large Pot
- 1 15oz Can Pumpkin Puree (or homemade pumpkin puree)
- ½ Cup Apple Juice
- ⅔ Cup Brown Sugar (Packed)
- ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp Ground Cloves
- ⅛ tsp Ground Ginger
- ⅛ heaping tsp Salt
- Combine all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pot.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat and partly cover. Simmer, stirring regularly to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom and burning, for approximately twenty minutes until mixture becomes thick and glossy.
- Remove from heat, let cool. Transfer to jars or other fridge- and freezer-safe containers.
- Pumpkin butter can be stored, covered, in the fridge for a couple weeks or in the freezer for a few months.