Reduced Sugar Pumpkin Butter

Growing up my mother always made homemade apple butter, but in light of my Pumpkin Spice Week on Facebook and because I love pumpkin and all of the health benefits it provides, I decided to make some pumpkin butter this autumn instead of apple butter.

As much as I love sweet things, my body does not. So I have been making it my mission to decrease the amount of sugar I put in my body. I have eliminated most products with added sugar from my diet and a lot of my recipes I have cut the sugar almost in half, or only used one kind of sugar instead of using both brown and white sugar. I have never made this recipe with the original amount of sugar. It's delicious. I have also recently looked into the use of coconut sugar instead of regular sugar or brown sugar. There are many benefits to using coconut sugar over regular sugars. In this recipe, the apple cider brings a good amount of sweetness as well, so reducing the amount of sugar keeps it just the right amount of sweetness, and it doesn't over power the pumpkin flavor.

Huffington Post is one my favorite sources.

Coconut Sugar

Here's the recipe:

1 29oz can of pumpkin puree

1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)

1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar

1 cup apple cider

2 tsp pumpkin spice

2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)

This is how you do it:

On the stove top- put all ingredients except the lemon juice in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce the heat to med-low, cover loosely, and allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened to personal preference. about 20-30mins. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool completely. Transfer into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Recipe tips:

The longer you cook it, the thicker and darker it gets.

If you over cook it, it will taste burnt.

Makes about 4-5cups.

If you blend your pumpkin butter after cooking it makes it even smoother. You can put it directly in a blender or use a hand blender before putting it in a airtight container for storage.

Crockpot cooking: cook on low for 5-6hours, stirring about every hour to prevent sticking.

Ways to enjoy pumpkin butter:

~Grilled cheese

~Great for dipping crackers, pretzels, or fruit in

~Spread on toast

~Mix into smoothies

~Top ice cream

~Top pancakes/waffles


I know that the next question everyone will ask is "Can I can my pumpkin butter?" Unfortunately pumpkin butter is not safe to can and here's why...


Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA's Extension Service published the Complete Guide to Home Canning , which remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the September 1994 revision. The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed pulp. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, "Caution: Do not mash or puree."

It is true that previous USDA recommendations had directions for canning mashed winter squash, but USDA withdrew those recommendations and any publications preceding the Complete Guide to Home Canning (September 1994) are considered out of date.

Some of the factors that are critical to the safety of canned pumpkin products are the viscosity (thickness), the acidity and the water activity. Studies conducted at the University of Minnesota in the 1970's indicated that there was too much variation in viscosity among different batches of prepared pumpkin purees to permit calculation of a single processing recommendation that would cover the potential variation among products (Zottola et. al, 1978). Pumpkin and winter squash are also low-acid foods (pH>4.6) capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause the very serious illness, botulism, under the right storage conditions. If the bacteria are present and survive processing, and the product has a high enough water activity, they can thrive and produce toxin in the product.

More recent research with pumpkin butter has been done at the University of Missouri. Pumpkin butter is mashed or pureed pumpkin that has had large quantities of sugar added to it, but not always enough to inhibit pathogens. Sometimes an ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice is added to the formulation to increase the acidity (decrease the pH). However, pumpkin butters produced by home canners and small commercial processors in Missouri have had pH values as high as 5.4. In fact, the pH values seemed to be extremely variable between batches made by the same formulation (Holt, 1995).

It is not possible to evaluate a recipe for pumpkin or mashed squash for canning potential by looking at it. At this point, research seems to indicate variability of the products is great, and in several ways that raise safety concerns. It is best to freeze pumpkin butters or mashed squash.

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