Spiced Pecan & Pumpkin Butter
– Zest of 1 orange or zest of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon removed in wide strips with a swivel peeler
– 1 (29-ounce) can solid pack pumpkin plus 1/2 cup of water or 3 1/2 to 4 cups pumpkin puree prepared from scratch
– 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
– 3 tablespoons strained fresh orange juice
– 3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
– 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
– 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
– Pinch of ground cloves
– 1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted and very finely chopped
1. Simmer the orange zest in 2 cups water in a saucepan for 10 minutes, then drain it and mince it to a fine pulp. Measure out 1 tablespoon and reserve. Combine in a heavy-bottomed stainless-steel or other nonreactive saucepan, the pumpkin and water (if using canned) orange zest, sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, allspice, ginger and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; lower the heat and simmer the mixture, stirring it very often with a wooden spatula, until it has become very thick, about 15 minutes. Sample the butter and add a little more of any of all of the spices, if you like (although flavors will blossom in storage). Add more sweetening if your taste buds request it.
2. Stir in the nuts and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle the boiling-hot pumpkin butter into clean, hot half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal the jars with new 2 piece canning lids according to manufacturer’s instructions. Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool, label, and store for up to a year in a cool cupboard.
Makes 5 cups.
One quick note. When it’s time to simmer the butter for 15 minutes…well, it’s so thick that it pops and makes a huge mess as it “simmers.” I put the next-size-up lid on my saucepan and kept it propped open with my wooden spoon…that way the moisture could escape to help thicken the butter, but your kitchen doesn’t look like the battleground for the Great Pumpkin War of 2008.