Swap-Box Hero: Roasted Pumpkin Butter

Five pounds?

According to John Oliver—in an epic rant against all things pumpkin-flavored—that’s how much pumpkin the average American eats each year.

Maybe so. Nevertheless, there were three lovely little Kikuzas and a Queensland Blue in the swap box at the end of last week’s pick-up. So I grabbed a couple.

Five pounds. I’m doing my part. How about you?

Split
Sweet and spicy Kikuza squash is a natural for baking.
Oven-Roasted Pumpkin Butter

Mix or match pie pumpkin and/or any winter squash here (preference given to varieties with sweeter, deep-colored flesh).

Two small Kikuza squash yielded just over a pint of spread. Note that I split that into four jars, though. Squash doesn’t can safely (it’s too low in acid), so cold is its best preserver. I kept one jar in the fridge to enjoy over the next couple weeks, and tucked the others in the freezer. Adapted from Chicago hero Paul Virant’s terrific book, The Preservation Kitchen

  • 4 lbs squash, washed, dried, halved, and seeded
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil (for coating pan)
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg, ginger, and allspice
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Coat the cut sides of each squash with oil and place, cut side down, on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-45 minutes, until a sharp knife can pierce the flesh easily. Cool slightly, scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor or heavy-duty blender, then purée until very smooth. Toss or compost the skins.

Pucker Up
These halves cooked up very quickly—they were soft and scoopable in less than half an hour.

Measure out 3 cups of the squash pulp; reserve the rest for another use—maybe a small batch of soup or pasta.

In a bowl, mix together the squash and all the other ingredients, taking special care to evenly distribute all the ground spices. Spread mixture into a rimmed, 9×13″ baking sheet. Roast, stirring every 10-15 minutes, for about an hour, until the spread is thick and caramelly. If you go a bit too far, thin it out with a bit of water.

Before
Here it is, before it goes into the oven . . .
After
. . . and here it is after about an hour in the oven.

With your spatula, swirl the mixture around on the sheet pan for a minute or two to fully incorporate any caramelized bits. Spoon into clean jars or freezer containers, cover, and let cool on the counter before you transfer to the fridge or freezer—and if you’re going to be freezing it, don’t forget to leave a little extra headspace to accommodate expansion.

Jars
My favorite uses: on toast, on pancakes, and between two oatmeal cookies.

Also try it . . .

  • Stirred into oatmeal or yogurt
  • As a dip for slices of crisp apple or pear
  • Swirled through not-quite-set vanilla ice cream
  • Schmeared onto a grilled sandwich (think: some combo of cheese, apples, and/or ham)
  • Whisked into a batch of cream-cheese cake frosting
  • Baked into those ridiculous Williams-Sonoma dessert bars
  • Eaten, nervously, straight out of the jar by the spoonful while you’re standing at the kitchen island watching yet another Cubs reliever battle Stephen Piscotty with a man on base.

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