I use a potato masher to break up the pumpkin flesh into a chunky mass, then begin scooping the stuff into my blender (you also may use a food processor).
Fill the blender to about half full and hit the puree button. You want to break down the consistency of the pumpkin into something fine and smooth, like soft butter, but this can take awhile, and you should keep an eye on your blender or food processor. It can tax your kitchen appliance's motor.
As the pumpkin is converted to the right texture, add it to your Crock-Pot, and then repeat with the remaining pumpkin until it's all in the Crock-Pot.
To the pumpkin add two cups of sugar, a tablespoon of cinnamon, a half-tablespoon each of cloves and nutmeg and a couple of dashes of salt. Mix thoroughly.
Place the lid on the Crock-Pot, but leave it slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Set your Crock-Pot on low, then find something else to do for a couple of hours.
You should check back only every few hours; just stop by, take the lid off and stir the pot. Take periodic taste tests (use a clean spoon every time). Add sugar, cinnamon or cloves to taste (some people like a sweeter pumpkin butter, others want a little more bite).
After six to eight hours, the pumpkin butter should be very thick, turn off the Crock-Pot, cover and allow to cool.
When it's a comfortable temperature, move to jars and distribute to friends and relatives or place in containers and freeze.
The pumpkin butter has a refrigerator life of around 10 days. Unfortunately, the USDA says not to bother with canning pureed pumpkin or pumpkin butter. Among other things, the varied viscosity of the pumpkin makes it unreliable to establish guidelines for safe canning, and if you give some home-canned pumpkin butter, you could inadvertently be giving a jar of life-altering bacteria.
The stuff you buy in the stores or is made in bulk by professional canners is apparently safe because they use equipment not usually available to the home canner.
Still, the pumpkin butter freezes fine, and any of it you give away probably won't last a full week, let alone 10 days.
It's pretty amazing on a toasted English muffin.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.