For anyone who missed it during the Facebook Thanksgiving Pot Luck Book Party, here’s the recipe for Pumpkin butter.
The romantic sidekick in the Danger Cove Quilting Mysteries is Matt Viera. Unlike the main character, Keely Fairchild, Matt is a good cook, and I’m looking forward to writing the story when he finally gets a chance to demonstrate his skills for her. Up until now, they’ve been too busy chasing killers and staying alive.
Matt’s favorite holiday recipe is for Pumpkin Butter, traditional in Portugal, which is where his family is from originally. It’s a bit like pumpkin pie in a jar, or a cross between spicy apple butter and marmalade (with little bits of lemon for zing). It’s incredibly versatile – use it for dipping apples, spread it between two cookies (sugar or gingersnap) for a cookie sandwich, spread it between the layers (or on top, in lieu of frosting) of a white or spice cake, or heat it in the microwave like hot fudge sauce and ladle on top of vanilla ice cream or yogurt (frozen or regular).
It’s also incredibly easy – basically just toss the ingredients into a slow cooker and stir every hour or two.
12 cups pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cubed
(Or about ten cups of canned pumpkin or squash)
3 Tablespoons (or up to 4 Tablespoons if you like it stronger) pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 to 3 cups of brown sugar
Starting with the lower amount of sugar and saving the rest for adjusting to taste, toss everything except the lemon into a slow cooker. Add water until it rises to about halfway up the sides of the cooker. (You don’t need to cover all the pumpkin.) Start cooking on high.
Cut thin strips of the zest (the yellow part, not the bitter white part) from the lemon. Cut those strips into tiny pieces and toss into the slow cooker. (You could grate it, but I prefer having slightly larger little bits for the texture.) Juice the lemon, but reserve the juice until the pumpkin is done.
Check every hour or so and give it a bit of a stir. As the pumpkin starts to soften, mash it against the side of the slow cooker with a wood spoon. If you have a food mill, you can get rid of the lumps at the end of the cooking, but if not, you’ll want to mash as you go, doing a bit every time you check on it. Once everything is evenly soft, take off the lid, lay a pair of wood spoons across opposite sides of the cooker and then place the lid on top of the spoons, so that liquid can evaporate. Keep cooking, stirring once every hour or so, until it thickens to the texture of apple butter.
Turn off heat, pour in the lemon juice and stir well. Once everything is cool, you can run the squash butter through a blender or food mill, if you want, but don’t puree it too much. Save some lumps, especially the lemon bits, for hits of flavor. Ladle into freezer-safe containers if you want to store it long-term. It will last in the fridge for a week or two and in the freezer much longer. DO NOT CAN IT. According to the experts, pumpkin and squash cannot be safely canned.