Autumn is my favorite season, with its rich jewel tones and falling leaves. One sign that autumn is upon us is when we start seeing pumpkins for sale in stores and at farmers’ markets. I always got several pumpkins for decorating, indoors and out. When the season was over, I never knew what to do with the pumpkins. Then I learned that the pumpkins I drew faces on were edible and I could cook with them. That gave me yet another reason to love autumn.

Every time I cooked the pumpkins, I used them in some recipe or another but then I received a jar of maple pumpkin butter. It was the first time I had ever tried it and I loved it so much, I just had to try and make my own pumpkin butter with my own pumpkins. Guess what? It was pretty easy. I made several taste adjustments until it compared positively with the store-bought butter, but in the end, I nailed it. Besides a few jars of amazing maple pumpkin butter, I also got a bowl of yummy roasted pumpkin seeds to munch on. Let me show you how easy it is to make your own pumpkin butter and pumpkin seeds.

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1. Choose a Pumpkin

Cooking pumpkins are different than carving pumpkins. The smaller types are better for cooking because they have a smooth texture, dense flesh and are sweet. They usually weigh between four and eight pounds. The pumpkin should not have any bruises or soft spots since that might mean it has begun to rot. Choose a pumpkin that has no cuts in the shell and be sure to check the bottom too, since it has probably been sitting on the damp ground. One last thing: the stem is not a handle. Lift a pumpkin from the bottom or sides. If the stem breaks, the pumpkin will start to go bad.

A 3-lb. pumpkin makes about 3 cups of pumpkin butter. The pumpkin cooks down a lot, so plan accordingly for however much butter you are planning to make.

2. Prep the Pumpkin

The hardest part of using your own pumpkins is cleaning out all the seeds, but as a reward, you get a big bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds to snack on. Take the pumpkin and using a large chef’s knife, place it on one side of the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings with a spoon. Rinse the seeds, getting all the strings off them and set them aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds.

3. Roast and Process the Pumpkin

Place the pumpkin halves in a baking dish, cut side down. Add ½ cup water to the baking dish. Roast the pumpkin halves at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until the pumpkin is fork-tender.

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Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin from the pumpkin flesh. It should come off easily in big pieces. Discard the skin. Place the pumpkin flesh in a food processor or blender and process until it is a smooth puree. You can use this puree for any of your pumpkin recipes. Try this Pumpkin Protein Smoothie, these Vegan Pumpkin Pie Pancakes and this Creamy Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna.

4. Cook and Season the Pumpkin Puree

Transfer the pumpkin puree to a small saucepan. Cook it over medium heat until it reduces to half. Add ½ cup maple syrup, 2 Tbs. brown sugar, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, 1/8 tsp. ground allspice, 1/8 tsp. ground cloves and a pinch of kosher salt to the pumpkin. Stir to combine.

In a mug, combine 1 Tbs. arrowroot and ½ cup cold water. Stir to create a slurry. Add the slurry to the pan and stir it into the pumpkin. This will make the butter glossy as it cooks. Add as much water to the pumpkin as you need to get the consistency you want. The butter should be thick enough to stand up on a spoon. Taste for seasoning and make adjustments as needed.

5. Transfer the Butter to Jars

Transfer the pumpkin butter to jars with tight-fitting lids. It will keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it.

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6. Roast the Pumpkin Seeds

Put the pumpkin seeds in a colander and rinse to remove all the pumpkin strings. Dry the seeds in a towel. Transfer the seeds to a baking sheet. Drizzle with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt. You can also add whatever spices you like to jazz up the seeds. Toss to coat and arrange the seeds in a single layer. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Stir the seeds and roast another 5-10 minutes. After 5 minutes, check a couple of seeds. The insides cook before the outsides look cooked. If you roast the seeds until the outsides look cooked, the insides will be overcooked. Use the pumpkin seeds to make this Zucchini Pasta with Pumpkin Seeds and Garlic and this Pumpkin Seed Pesto.

7. Eat the Pumpkin Butter (and Seeds)

My favorite way to have pumpkin butter is for breakfast. I have a crunchy waffle with peanut butter and pumpkin butter. My husband likes this same combination, but on my fresh-baked challah. Try your pumpkin butter on these Buckwheat and Brown Rice Waffles or spread on homemade French Bread. Yum!

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It is always so much fun to take products you would usually buy and learn to make them yourself. Homemade pumpkin butter is fun and easy to make, and best of all, you get to choose your ingredients, flavors and spices. Oh, and don’t forget the addictive, roasted pumpkin seeds!

Image Source: Homemade Maple Pumpkin Butter and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds/ Rhea Parsons