Seasonal Kitchen: Tropical Pumpkin Butter

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Just in time for the holidays, Chef Bruno Fonseca of Millenia 106 gives a Florida twist to a classic fall favorite by adding lots of local honey, fresh ginger and seasonal citrus. It’s worth looking for Florida-grown calabaza–an orange-fleshed member of the squash family that is also known as West Indian pumpkin or green pumpkin–as it cooks more quickly and is less watery than pumpkin. This spicy, citrusy butter is perfect for jazzing up a pulled pork sandwich or a cheese plate, or as part of the offerings for our make-ahead holiday brunch.

6 cups peeled and cubed calabaza pumpkin, butternut squash or acorn squash
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup local honey
1 cup Sauternes or other sweet white wine
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 bay leaf
Zest of one orange
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place cubed pumpkin in a semi-wide pot, scrape the vanilla bean and mix its contents with the pumpkin. Add all remaining ingredients except the lemon juice, then add cold water to cover.

Cook slowly over medium heat, stirring every 10 minutes with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Once the pot goes dry, check the texture of the pumpkin with a thin-bladed knife. If the knife goes through easily then the pumpkin is fully cooked. If not, add more water to finish the cooking process.

Remove the bay leaf and the vanilla bean, add the lemon juice and puree the mixture to the desired texture using a hand blender, standing blender or food processor. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks or up to a year in the freezer.

Note: Because of pumpkin’s low acidity, the USDA does not recommend any home canning technique for use with pumpkin butter.

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