Rejuvenating Dr. Chase’s Home Hearth Pumpkin Butter Recipe

homemade pumpkin spice butter by bakethiscakeWe’ve been hard at work chasing down Dr. Chase and his story of lumberjacks in the North Woods and their slow simmering pumpkin butter to bring you this mellow pumpkin jam recipe. We tinkered with the original recipe to super simplify it and kick it up a notch for slow-and-easy homemade Pumpkin Spice Butter. It will warm your heart and your home as it slow cooks with spiced apple cider and winter weather spices. It also plays a key role in our Pumpkin Butter Spice Cake.

pumpkin-cider-butter-overhead-by-bake this cake

Our recipe is inspired by Dr. Alvan “A. W.” Wood Chase (1817 – 1885) and his discussion of “Pumpkin Butter, As Made In The North Woods”, in reference to a little newspaper clipping that he saved from 1870.  The article appeared in Dr. Chase’s book, published posthumously, as “Dr. Chase’s Third Last and Complete Receipt Book”, F. B. Dickerson & Co, Detroit and Ontario, 1888.

Dr A W Chase Memorial Receipt Book by bakethiscake

The Man Behind The Door to Practical Empowerment: The fascinating Dr. Chase was a druggist turned medical doctor, turned newspaper publisher. But he was best known in his next incarnation as the author of a wildly popular series of remedy and recipe books that he initially marketed and sold directly to the masses in 1864.  At a time when the Civil War was tearing the country apart, this man seemed to bring America together by sharing his “how to” instructions to empower the people with practical information. In some ways his writings were like a 19th Century version of our modern groundswell towards a sharing economy with the likes of AirBNB, Uber and micro financing. As his book subtitle proclaims, it was “the book for the million”. Dr. Chase’s Steam Printing House in Ann Arbor still stands (albeit in much altered form).

The key to a happy home by Dr Chase bakethiscakeLife Hacks for the 1800’s
: We continue to be intrigued with the doctor’s vast array of incredible cures (even if many are now seen as dubious) and his vast array of DIY guidance for household, mechanical and farming applications. He ran the gambit from how to make: cement, paint, cheese, horse shoes, vinegar and hair dye. You can also pick up tips on how to: graft a tree, hull corn, cut hair, ferment wine, keep bees and even bake a “cake that will keep for months” (okay, it was fruit cake).

A Well-Read Life: After the sensational popularity of his first book transformed a simple pamphlet into a publishing empire, Dr. Chase kicked back and sold his domain for a handsome price to retired lumber baron and politician, Rice Aner Beal (1843-1883). The sale agreement included a strict non-competition clause preventing Dr. Chase from publishing in Michigan.

Dr. Chase's Recipes or Information For Everyone by bake this cake

But there was no keeping the good doctor down and, perhaps rejuvenated by his own collection of cures or his quest to continue spreading the direct-to-consumer word, he determined to publish a sequel. This became the subject of numerous heated legal debates, ending in a loss for Dr. Chase at the Supreme Court level. Although we understand that Dr. Chase died penniless, at the age of about 70, he left a manuscript fit for a 788-page book. Thank you, Dr. C. for sharing an amazing wealth of fascinating information with us! Respects can be paid to him at Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor.


No Budder In This Better Butter: We’re not talking churned dairy fat separated from cream here. Even  though the butter term is running rampant these days, roving from peanut butter, almond butter, apple butter to cookie butter, we’re talkin’ here about the term as used historically for a “soft spread” and second cousin to a soft cheesy “smear” borrowing from Yiddish term, schmear.

pumpkin latte with pumpkin butter by bakethiscake

Pumpkin Latte made with pumpkin butter

Variety is the Pumpkin Butter Spice of Life! This pumpkin butter is magical as a smear on a bagel or on our Homemade Cinnamon Swirl Toast.  It is super awesome as an added kick in or on pancakes or oatmeal or blended into our Heirloom Custard Frosting or maybe into our Italian Sour Cream Cheesecake. It raises the happiness quotient by tenfold when added to our Homemade Country Pumpkin Bread or even as a topping on homemade vanilla ice cream or stirred into plain yogurt or blended with cream cheese.  Okay, now I’m just channeling Dr. Chase! But one more… If you make a big ole’ pot of it and divide it among little mason jars with cute labels, you will have the most charming homemade Christmas or holiday gifts for your friends and family. Let me know in the Comments if you find other uses for this soft little pumpkin jam.

Pumpkin Patch Pumbpkins by LifeForcePhotos for bakethiscake

1880 North Woods Pumpkin Butter: If I understand it correctly, Dr. Chase’s instructions for North Wood Pumpkin Butter involve 1 big pot of water, 4 fresh pumpkins, straining cloth and brown sugar. Cover with water to boil 3 fresh pumpkins cut into pieces to a point where the liquid in which they boil is reduced by half. Remove the pumpkin pieces to a “coarse cloth” and press/squeeze the pumpkin pieces to obtain a form of juicy puree, adding this mash back to the pot. De-seed a 4th “keeper pumpkin” and cut it into small pieces and boil these pieces in the pumpkin mixture until soft, taking care not burn it, for a total of about 10 hours, adding brown sugar to taste. Here’s the actual discussion. It took me a while to interpret this recipe along with his tips. I think I’ve got it right but let me know in the Comments if you have a different take.

pumpkin butter 1880 dr chases third last-and complete receipt book bake this cake

Important safety note: This recipe makes a pint jar of homemade pumpkin butter (if you don’t taste too much during the process) that will store in a sealed glass jar for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator but pumpkin butter is not recommended for a canning process.

Serving pumpkin spice butter with tea by bakethiscake

Pumpkin Spice Butter Directions (Pint-Size Quantity):

This is slow-n-go prep but so super simple to make in a crock pot! Double it, quadruple it, as you prefer.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice Butter:
15 ounces (about 1-3/4 cups) canned pumpkin or the same quantity of baked fresh pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon high quality cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1/2 teaspoon finely pulverized fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or 1/4 pod nutmeg (grated finely)
1/8 teaspoon ground dried orange peel or 1/4 outer peel of fresh orange (removing peels before serving)
1/2 teaspoon natural pure lemon flavoring or 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (loosely packed) golden brown sugar
3 cups (more or less) high quality spiced apple cider added in 1 cup at a time over the slow cooking process as needed. You may substitute natural non-spiced apple cider or apple juice.

spread-of-homemade-pumpkin-jam-on-sourdough-bread-by-bake this cake

1. Using canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin:

For canned pumpkin (without added sugars or spices), just plop a 15-ounce (1-3/4 cup) can of high quality natural pumpkin puree (with no sugar or spices) into the pot.

For fresh-baked pumpkin, scrape out the seeds, hack up a whole, small pumpkin into manageable pieces and bake it on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan at 400 degrees until softened (just as you would bake a bunch of whole russet potatoes).  When the pumpkin is tender to the fork, use a spoon to scrape the cooked pumpkin from the skin, squeeze out as much moisture as you are able and puree it well in a food processor to the texture of mashed potatoes. Measure out 1-3/4 cup of the puree for this recipe.

Fresh-baked Pumpkin Tip: Each fresh pumpkin has a different moisture and fiber level. Squeeze out moisture from your cooled, fresh-baked pumpkin with a cheesecloth, clean dish towel or even paper towels (similar to removing moisture from cooked fresh spinach). Although we are going to simmer this down and it will need extra liquid to keep it from burning — you can add more cider goodness if the pumpkin has less moisture.


Spread the bright orange pumpkin puree on the bottom of your slow cooker or heavy pot. This picture shows canned pumpkin puree in a crock pot.

pumpkin-puree-in-crock-pot-by-bake this cake

2. Spice it Up:

Sprinkle the following spices over the pumpkin puree:
1 teaspoon high quality cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or 1/2 teaspoon finely pulverized fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or 1/4 pod nutmeg (grated finely)
1/8 teaspoon ground dried orange peel or 1/4 outer peel of fresh orange (removing peels before serving)
1/2 teaspoon natural pure lemon flavoring or 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

spice-mixture-for-slow-food-pumpkin-spice-butter-by-bake this cake

3. Add Some Sweet Goodness:

Swirl in:
1 cup (loosely packed) golden brown sugar

golden-brown-sugar-for-pumpkin-spice-butter-by-bake this cake

4. Cider It In Stages:

Stir in, mixing well:
1 cup of good quality spiced apple cider (or plain apple cider or apple juice) in the beginning stage. (More cider later.)

spiced-appe-cider-for-pumpkin-butter-by-bake this cake

5. Simmer low and slow for 10 hours:

Set your crock pot or slow cooker on lowest and slowest. I set my crock pot for 10 hours. If your crock pot doesn’t have a 10-hour setting, you will have to watch your creation more carefully, maybe even double the recipe to be sure your butter doesn’t get too hot.

For stove-top, use a heavy pot, like a lidded cast iron pot, with heat set to lowest simmer, for 10 hours. Now watch over it to be sure your slow cooking is stirred from time to time.

crock-pot-simmer-pumpkin-butter-by-bake this cake

6. Check your creation as it simmers and add more cider in stages:

Every 1 to 2 hours (or more frequently as needed), stir the pumpkin butter to be sure that it is not burning on the bottom and add as needed:
2 additional cups of spiced apple cider.

We used 3 cups of spiced apple cider total in our recipe using either canned pumpkin puree or fresh-baked and pureed pumpkin puree. One cup at initial, one cup about 2 hours in and the third cup about 8 hours in.

spiced-apple-cider-for-pumpkin-butter-recipe-by-bake this cake

Tip: We’re adding cider only 1 cup at a time so that you can be certain to keep your eye on your special concoction (to be sure it doesn’t burn and so that you can adjust the amount of liquid needed, especially for fresh-baked pumpkin which may start with more or less moisture than canned pumpkin).

Double Tip: Your pumpkin butter creation should remain in a milkshake consistency during the cooking process. If it is too watery, wait to add more apple cider and let cook it down in a typical reduction process. If it is too thick or getting too brown or dry, just add more apple cider (or water if you run out) 1 cup at a time. If it starts to sizzle on the bottom or get too brown around the edges, quick add more apple cider (or even water).

7. Dark Golden Brown Heaven:

When the pumpkin butter has simmered for 10 hours and reaches the color of golden-dark with a consistency of a thick milkshake, stir it well for the last time and it is ready to taste! Although we think we’ve landed on the perfect mix of sweet and spicy, fresh pumpkin variations and cooking methods may change your final results so you may adjust the sweetness with a little added brown sugar or spice and letting the mixture simmer a little longer to incorporate the flavors nicely.

finished-slow-cooker-pumpkin-spice-butter-by-bake this cake

Refrigerate in a sealed glass jar. It will keep refrigerated for at least 2 weeks. Remember, this is not a recipe for long-term canning.

And here is what you’ll get…An Ah-mazing delicacy!

storing-homemade-pumpkin-cider-butter-by-bake this cake
I do hope you get a chance to create this golden carmelized gem. You may even receive some kind of super amazing health benefits just as our good Doctor Chase might have wanted. But even if you only receive some awesome aromatherapy, you will have had a super fun kitchen DIY experience. And it just might be the best pumpkin butter you ever did taste!


Thank you for joining me on this romp through the North Woods with the good Dr. Chase. Let me know in the Comments section what special changes you might make to this recipe…’cause the best part about scratch cooking is that YOU are the food crafter! And if you get a chance to make it, I hope you will share your “how to” with your children, friends and family.





Downtown Los Angees and Beverly Hills sights.

Other posts you may enjoy reading:
Old-Fashioned Fresh Banana Layer Cake (
Pink Lemonade Cake for a Crowd (
Country Roasted Pumpkin Bread (
Vintage Clementine Cake (

4 thoughts on “Rejuvenating Dr. Chase’s Home Hearth Pumpkin Butter Recipe

  1. This is really fabulous Leslie. I love all your great research and interesting stories you find. Its always a treat to see what interesting tidbits you come up with. I love the photos too. Sounds like a wonderful recipe. Thank you so much! Can hardly wait to get that cake recipe too! You are brilliant and charmig at the same time!!

  2. This is really fabulous Leslie. I love all your great research and interesting stories you find. Its always a treat to see what interesting tidbits you come up with. I love the photos too. Soubds like a wonderful recipe. Thank yo so much! Can hardly wait to get that cake recipe too! You are brilliant and charmig at tge same time!!

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