Canning locally grown fruit is one of our favorite summertime activities. We have apricot and pear trees in our backyard, and we also pick locally grown peaches and cherries for canning (and eating!). I think it’s important for the boys to know where food comes from. Plus they get a kick out of the labels we create for the jellies and jams; I name each new creation for them.
This year we experienced a late freeze in our area, which resulted in tremendous stone fruit losses. That coupled with our summertime travels meant it was October before I was thinking about canning. The end result: no jellies and jams for holiday gifts. Yikes!
Fortunately, a plethora of pumpkins came to the rescue. Somehow, this year I ended up with 10 pumpkins of various sizes between three trips to the pumpkin patch, a trip to the dentist (free pumpkins in October) and a pumpkin science workshop.
Pumpkin butter technically cannot be canned in jars using a water bath canner. It’s not acidic enough. However, pumpkin butter does keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. When labeling my “Little Punkins’ Pumpkin Butter,” I’ll make sure to include refrigeration instructions.
I’m not quite ready to make the pumpkin butter yet; I’ll wait until closer to Christmas. However, I did go ahead and make and freeze pumpkin puree before my pumpkins started decomposing. I plan to use this crockpot pumpkin butter recipe when the time comes…..click here for the recipe.
To make pumpkin puree, the basis for pumpkin butter, simply cut off the top of your pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and pulp. Cut the pumpkin to fit into a microwave-safe dish; I used an 11 x 13 lasagna pan, but a covered dish would probably work better. Note: The larger your pieces of pumpkin, the easier it is to scoop out the flesh when you are finished. Add a few tablespoons of water to your dish and microwave the pumpkin on high for 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness with a knife.
When your pumpkin is done, cool it and scrape out the flesh. The easiest way to puree the cooked pumpkin is with an immersion blender. My kids loved pushing the button and helping me puree the pumpkin. However, you could probably also do this in a food processor.
I put the pumpkin into gallon freezer bags and labeled them with the date. I placed the bags on cookie sheets to cool them first in the refrigerator before moving them to the freezer.
You can use homemade pumpkin puree the same way you would use canned purees: pumpkin pies, smoothies and breads. However, if you have pumpkin butter in your sights, stay tuned for the follow-on post in a few weeks.