Sweet Butternut Squash and Coconut Jam

Please don't let the title dissuade you from trying this fantastically complex, deliciously sweet and heavenly autumnal spread. It is time consuming and requires a good chunk of your afternoon, but the classic scents of fall drifting through your kitchen (and eventually, the entire house) with the October sun beaming through the windows makes for a pleasant, and therefore worthwhile, jam-ing process.

I loved putting this together.

The ingredients are simple enough: peeled and cubed butternut squash, milk, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. The magic happens in the lengthy cooking, when the liquids reduce and the sugars - both the ones we add to the pot and the sugar that cooks out of the squash - caramelize and we're left with a gooey, spiced jam.

Don't expect a sticky, stringy jam like strawberry preserves. It does most of its setting after sitting in the refrigerator for a while, and is incredible combined with goat cheese on a baguette.

You will need:

1 large butternut squash, approximately 2 pounds
2 cups milk
2 cups white sugar (can reduce to 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
8-10 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split (2 tsp of vanilla extract is ok too).
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut

Peel and dice the butternut squash into small cubes (the smaller and more even the pieces, the faster they will cook), discarding the seeds and goo in the middle of the squash's bulb. Don't even try to dice a butternut squash without a good, sharp knife...if you can find them in the grocery store already peeled and cubed, you may want to go that route instead.

Add the squash, milk, sugars, cinnamon stick, cloves and vanilla to a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Remember how many cloves you added, because you will need to pick them all out before mashing (along with the vanilla bean if using, and the cinnamon stick). Allow the mixture to come to a simmer (not a boil!), and after about 15 minutes, the squash should be soft enough to begin mashing with a potato masher or two forks. I used an immersion blender.

Keep the heat on medium and continue simmering, stirring frequently. When the mixture is reduced by half and thick like jam, remove from the heat. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn as the milk reduces. This will take between 20 and 30 minutes.

See the line of squash around the pot , above the rest of the mixture? That's how much it reduced since I initially mashed/blended the squash.

Stir in the coconut and let cool before serving.
I canned mine in 5 half-pint jars, thinking that I could preserve the jam like any other jam, but every source I consulted advised stronly against preserving pureed squash. Why? The mixture is far too viscous and thick for water bath canning (even pressure canning) to sufficiently kill all the bacteria throughout the mixture.

They all instead advised freezing. Store a jar in the refrigerator if you are planning on using some within the
next 4 days, and store the rest in the freezer.

Source: The Kitchn.

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