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Each fall pumpkin butter comes to mind! It’s the condiment that makes me smell and taste the season. If you’re wondering what pumpkin butter is, it actually doesn’t contain butter or any dairy. Pumpkin butter is usually made with apple juice and cooked down over a long period of time until it becomes dense and spreadable, rich with lively autumnal spices, concentrated in both flavor and texture. The idea of making pumpkin butter in a pressure cooker is perfect, because otherwise the recipe requires a long stove top cooking, lots of stirring and monitoring. In the Instant Pot (or your pressure cooker), the cooking time is just 10 minutes! Also, this recipe can be made with either canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin: You choose! I provide both variations.
Refined Sugar-free Sweetener
I made this recipe for our family and for you because there are NO Instant Pot Pumpkin Butter recipes (that I could find) that aren’t made with sugar, until now! I think the world needs this recipe! Back in the day when pumpkin butters were first made, they were indeed made with sugar, but it wasn’t the refined sugar most home cooks use today. It was a darker cane sugar with more natural molasses. So I use coconut sugar in this recipe (or you can use maple sugar too) to replicate that original flavor and also because it’s healthier! Refined sugars aren’t healthy, and I believe that even treats should be wholesome.
Apples and Oranges
I love that pumpkin butters often also include apples, because both pumpkins and apples are ready for harvest at the same time, and apples actually contribute beautifully to the right texture and sweetness of pumpkin butter. I also like to add some orange zest to mine, because that wintry flavor goes so well with pumpkin. Such a special condiment is now je ne sais quoi delicious.
If you can’t have citrus, or want to keep it straight pumpkin, just omit the orange zest in the recipe below.
Regarding apple juice, I actually don’t use juice in my recipe. Instead I use apples and water. I don’t like buying pre-made juices in general because any fruit juice that isn’t fresh turns to fructose. While this recipe does use sweetener, I am happy to use apples themselves and not pre-made juice. The outcome is great, and we also save money not buying juice! If you happen to have lots of apples on a nearby tree and you own a juicer, you can certainly use fresh apple juice in this recipe for an even more concentrated, sweeter condiment.
Which Kind of Pumpkin to Use
Now — in this modern world, do we use fresh pumpkins or do we use canned pumpkin to make pumpkin butter? The answer, you’ll be happy to know … is: whichever you prefer!! I decided to make this recipe both ways to meet your needs. Honestly, canned pumpkin is one of the only prepared foods I ever buy. My kids like it straight from the can for a snack (and they are constantly eating); so sometimes it’s just nice to have the convenience of it. But we also eat a ton of freshly grown winter squash each fall. Kabocha is my favorite variety. This recipe works so well with fresh winter squash, including pie pumpkins, and there is a lot of pleasure to be had making this recipe completely from scratch! It really gets one in the spirit of all things holiday, family, seasonal and traditional! So choose your method according to what will bring you more pleasure!
If you’re going the fresh route, be sure to use a pie pumpkin or sugar pie, or choose kabocha squash for a denser, richer and thicker outcome. Butternut squash might be a nice variation, or butternut plus pie pumpkin. Just don’t use a Halloween type pumpkin, which will make a watery end product.
You can make this recipe with canned pumpkin or fresh pie pumpkin/certain varieties of winter squash. Do not use a Halloween-variety pumpkin; it will be too watery.
- 2 cans pumpkin OR 2-1/2 pounds pie pumpkin/Kabocha/butternut winter squash chunks (about 1 inch cubes, peeled and de-seeded)
- 2 large apples, peeld and de-seeded
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 3/4 cup filtered water or freshly pressed apple juice
- 1 Tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Place all ingredients except vanilla in pressure cooker insert pot. Stir together.
Seal the lid and close the pressure valve. Using the high pressure Manual button, set the time to 10 minutes if using canned pumpkin and 13 minutes if using fresh pumpkin. When the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Then press Cancel button. Place hot pad or dish towel over steam vent, and carefully open steam valve.
Stir to combine, and allow to cool slightly. Add vanilla. Use a hand blender, or transfer contents of pot to blender or food processor. Puree until completely smooth. Butter will thicken slightly as it cools.
Store in jars in fridge for 2-3 weeks.