If my summer had gone according to plan, I would have spent most of August in food preservation mode, channeling the season’s bounty into tomato sauce, pickled okra, and fruit conserves. Instead, October found me with a box of empty Mason Jars and a dozen dog-eared Christine Ferber recipes.
Where does this leave me? Demoralized, yes, but not defeated. In fact I’ve decided that winter, with its narrow roster of ingredients, will be perfect for honing my craft, so come spring I’ll be pickling ramps with the best of them.
Already, I’ve made a stockpot’s worth of vanilla applesauce—the consummation of a fall-foliage / apple-picking day trip to Chester, NJ (New Jersey: really quite beautiful. Who knew?) —and now, this butternut squash coconut jam.
I suspect Madame Ferber would not be pleased with the recipe—it bears none of her restraint or refined technique. But it’s bold and coconuty and scarily easy to eat by the spoonful.
Sweet Butternut Squash and Coconut Jam
Adapted from The Kitchn
Note the absurd quantity of sugar (really, it’s more confection than condiment)—next time, I’d reduce this a bit, to let the natural sweetness of the squash come through. I’d also experiment with more spices—ginger? nutmeg?
Makes about 4 cups
1 large butternut squash, approximately 2 pounds
2 cups milk
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
8-10 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
Peel the butternut squash and cut into small pieces - about 1 inch or less to a side. You can also grate it. The smaller you cut the pieces the faster it will cook. Put in a large (4 quarts or more) heavy pan over medium heat. Add the milk, sugars, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla pulp and bean.
Cook over medium heat until the squash is soft and tender. Keep a close watch on it as the milk simmers; it has a tendency to foam up. After the milk comes to a simmer it will be 10-15 minutes before the squash is soft. As the squash becomes soft and tender, mash it into a pulp with a potato masher or a pair of forks. Stir well.
Keep the heat on medium and continue simmering, stirring frequently. When the mixture is reduced and thick like jam, remove from the heat. [This will take between 20 and 45 minutes.] Remove the vanilla pod and spices. Stir in the coconut and let cool before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
Delicious warm, at room temperature, or straight from the refrigerator. Feel free to adjust the sugar and spice quantities to your liking.
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
5 pounds apples (I used a combination of Mutsu, Fuji and Jonagold), peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3-4 strips of lemon peel (from one lemon)
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Combine all ingredients in a wide, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples have broken down, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from heat the vanilla pod and lemon peel. [I like to let the cinnamon stick steep with the applesauce overnight.] Using a potato masher or immersion blender, puree to desired consistency. Taste for seasoning.
Refrigerate leftover applesauce in an airtight container, or freeze for later use.