Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pumpkin Butter (Gluten Free + Vegan): Gluten Free Food Gifts and Party Favors Series

[Post 1] Gluten Free Food Gifts and Party Favors Series

For anyone who has or has a person in his/her life who suffers from celiac disease or wheat intolerance, cooking for oneself and others becomes a little more challenging because the health of yourself or someone you care about is on the line.

My series on "Gluten Free Food Gifts and Party Favors," however, is meant to mediate that challenge a bit by showcasing a few Gluten Free homemade food gifts or party favors that as a person with celiac/wheat intolerance, or as a person catering to the GF needs of a friend or relative, could easily make to the delight of everybody's taste buds.

The posts in the series will cover the following homemade (always the best!) Gluten Free food gifts and party favors:

  • Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Butter
  • Gluten Free (no)Campfire Smores with marshmallows, GF graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and white chocolate drizzles
  • Gluten Free and Vegetarian Chocolate Bark with pistachio, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and white chocolate drizzle

Some Advice on Safe Gluten Free Cooking and Baking

As when doing any GF cooking, make sure all of your counter tops and kitchen materials being used have been properly cleaned to avoid cross-contamination. Even a few crumbs from your breakfast toast on the counter getting incorporated into the final product you give to a person with celiac can be very harmful to them.

You'll want to keep the issue of cross-contamination on your mind as you cook or bake--that bag of brown sugar you're dipping your measuring spoon into, have you ever dipped a measuring spoon into it when it had remnants of a wheat substance like flour on it? Often it's just safest to start with brand new bags of the basic ingredients unless you know--for sure--that you have been careful about preventing contamination.

Another thing to always keep in mind when cooking GF is that you must check your ingredients for GF labeling on the packaging. Some surprising foods are not GF (soy sauce is one example) and if you aren't conscientious about checking your packaging you could feed a friend or loved one something that will make them ill--definitely not the intention!

If you want to use a product but it has no GF label on it, you should search out additional nutritional information on the company's website and/or contact the company directly through phone or email to confirm the product is safe. Companies are very happy to answer these questions and usually do so in a reasonably short time period. Your best bet when searching for certified GF products, for example GF graham crackers, is to go to a specialty store like Whole Foods, Central Market, or Trader Joe's. These stores tend to have more explicitly GF options available.

Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Butter

Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Butter
for Gluten Free Gift or Party Favor
This first post in the "Gluten Free Food 
Gifts and Party Favors" series is on making Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Butter.

As a bonus, I even show you some cute ways that you can package and decorate the pumpkin butter for gifting for a birthday or holiday or for giving out as a party favor!

Fruit "butters" are definitely one of my comfort foods. They remind me of heading to Amish Country with my grandparents and great grandparents as a child.

The long drive was always worth it as we always ended up, first, at the Bulk Foods Store where I would get to pick out packages of gummy worms (among other things), and then we'd go--always to the same--cheese store, where I'd get to sample pretty much every cheese I could get my hands on (thereby developing a strange love of Farmer's Cheese). We'd usually then hit the apple orchard if it was the right season and buy apples and the most amazing cider I've ever tasted.

And, THEN, finally, we'd go to a restaurant called The Der Dutchman. There is where I'd get my fruit butter, specifically apple butter (which is much, much more labor intensive than pumpkin butter, just FYI). Pumpkin butter, for me, recalls those times I shared in Amish Country with family members who have since passed. The sweet, warm spice of the fruit butter leaves me feeling comforted, whether I eat it on GF bread, use it in GF Oats, or dip slices of apples into it.

RECIPE: Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Butter

  • 29oz can pumpkin puree
  • 3.4 cup apple juice
  • Ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom added in whatever quantity suits your taste
  • 1 +1/4 to 1 +1/2 cups brown sugar depending on your desired level of sweetness
  • Remember to avoid
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
[1.] Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and brown sugar in a large saucepan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered with lid for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful as the mixture can spit up at you out of the pan.
[2.] Remove from heat. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice.
[3.] Once cool, pumpkin butter should be stored in an air-tight container.  If giving as a gift, I recommend putting them in canning jars for presentation purposes.  
* Recipe makes 3.5 cups; use within 3weeks or freeze
Recommended Presentation for Gifting
What You'll Need:
  • 160z Canning jars (recipe fills 4) 
  • Decorating Ribbon (of your choice)
  • Decorative Gift Label (large enough to write the recipe on the back)
  • Transfer pumpkin butter into canning jars for best presentation.  
  • Decorate with large label with "Pumpkin Butter" written on the front and with the complete recipe transcribed on the back.
    Note:  Adding the recipe to the back of the label is not only a nice way of sharing the recipe with your loved one or friend so he or she can reproduce it in their own homes, it is also an easy way to reassure the person you are gifting the gluten free and vegan pumpkin butter to that it does not contain any ingredients that could make them ill!  It's always nice to not have to wonder or ask!
  • Tie label on with a strand of ribbon and tie into a bow.
  • Gift Away!

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