Pumpkin Butter

Small Pumpkins

Small Pumpkins

Pumpkin butter made from fresh pumpkins is delicious.
It doesn’t taste the same, nor does it have the bland texture that pumpkin butter made from commercial packed  pumpkin has.

It’s extra effort to cook and prepare the fresh pumpkin instead of just opening a can, but I think that the finished product is more than worth it.

If you want to make pumpkin butter from fresh pumpkins it is done in two parts.

  • In the first part of the process you must cook the pumpkin and puree it.
  • The second part is the actual cooking of the butter.

There are a few different ways that you can cook and peel pumpkin.
I cook pumpkin in a pressure cooker because it’s the fastest and the easiest way.
Some people use a microwave oven, but boiling the pumpkin will work, as will cooking it in a conventional oven until it is soft.
The point is to cook the pumpkin and then get the rind off so you can easily puree it.
Use whatever method works best for you.
With that said here’s how I make my pumpkin butter:

I gather fresh pumpkins from the garden.
I think the smaller pie type pumpkins taste the best.

I wash the pumpkins well, cut them in half and scoop out the seeds with an ice cream scoop.

I then cut them into pieces big enough to fit inside my 6 quart pressure cooker.


I pressure cook the pumpkin pieces for 9 minutes at 15 pounds of pressure, and then quick cool the pressure cooker by placing it in the sink and running cold water over it.
The pressure cooker method is very quick, cooks the pumpkin to perfection and makes the rind peel off easily.

After all my pumpkin is cooked I place it into a bowl to mash it and then put it through a food mill to puree it.

Some cooks prefer to use a food processor or a blender to puree pumpkin because it makes it smoother and creamier.
But I use a food mill because it’s what’s in the kitchen and I’m too lazy to go down to the basement and dig up the blender. Plus I hate fiddling with and then cleaning out the blender mess when I’m done.

Once the pumpkin is puree it’s time to move on to the second step.
In a large pot I mix

  • 3 cups of puree pumpkin
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • and just a bit of red pepper for bite.

Depending upon the thickness of the mixture, I cook the pumpkin butter over a low to medium heat for about 30 -45 minutes or until it rounds up nicely on a spoon.

I stir it occasionally to prevent it from sticking or scorching.
When I think the butter looks and tastes ready, I ladle it into clean, hot 1/2 pints jars leaving a 1/4″ head space.
Next apply a band and a new lid that has been simmered, to the jar and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
After 15 minutes I remove the jars and allow them to cool on a towel undisturbed for 8 hours or so.
When the jars are completely cooled I remove the band and check the seal.
Most often I triple or quadruple the above recipe, and usually get about 4 half pints of pumpkin butter for every 3 cups of pumpkin that I use.

Just so you know since the mid 1990′s there has been a controversy in regards to the safety of home canning pumpkin butter.
Now a days home canning pumpkin butter is not recommended by so called canning authorities and experts.
As far as I can tell the safety issue is a theoretical one.
Pumpkin is a low acid food and the only safe way to can low acid foods is with a pressure canner.
The difference with pumpkin butter is that the PH is radically altered by the addition of lots of sugar and lemon juice.
The heavy sugar and acidic lemon juice makes the pumpkin butter safe to can via the boiling water bath method……. at least that’s what everybody thought and did before somebody wrote a food science paper in the late 1970′s and then again in the 1990′s and freaked out home canners everywhere.
Apparently there is a possibility that you could get botulism from pumpkin butter.
So these days “experts” are telling home canners to freeze their pumpkin butter or store it in the refrigerator.
I don’t have much use for warnings from food science “experts” that are 35 years too late, and who made careers from published papers that peddled “it might happen” fears.

You do what you think is best with your pumpkin butter.
But as for me, I’m hopelessly stuck in my ways and haven’t died yet from poisoned pumpkin butter.
I’m not going to change how I store mine and just might write my own pumpkin butter paper someday.

Katherine Grossman

Katherine Grossman was born and raised in the greater Washington, D.C area. But for the last 30 years Mrs. Grossman has lived a life of deliberate self-reliance in rural western Pennsylvania. She loves to garden, knit mittens; makes a killer meatloaf and has been known to deliver triplet lambs with her eyes closed.