Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pumpkin Butter - Trader Joe's: Marlton, NJ

Pumpkin Butter - Trader Joe's: Marlton, NJ
I grew up in a household where Apple Butter was a breakfast staple. My Hungarian grandpa loves the stuff, so we'd eat it on toast, or mixed into oatmeal and cream of wheat. It reminds me of my childhood. (Plus, it's yummy.) It wasn't until I was an adult, with my own money and ability to grocery shop, that I found out there there were different fruit-based butters. Up until my late teens, I really thought apple was the only kind out there, but after I discovered the joys of pumpkin butter...there was no going back. I've tried a few different brands over the years, but I haven't found one that I am entirely loyal to. Maybe the cult of Trader Joe's will finally draw me in with this one.

The jar is made of thick, sturdy, glass, and it has a wrap-around sticker label. I like the color choices and the contrast of the baby blue and white against the orange, but other than this, it's design is fairly basic. (And not in a good way.) The oatmeal packaging I reviewed yesterday looked a lot more polished and cohesive, I wouldn't say that this was poorly designed, but when compared to yesterday's photos, this looks unfinished. A few tweaks here and there and this could work out really well.

I popped the cap off, and the "butter" was a lot thinner and runnier than what I'm used to. The texture and consistency is a lot like applesauce, although this might be even thinner than that, and it smells sweet, pumpkin-y, and spiced. Along with the typical pumpkin butter aroma, there was a bold tanginess, I'm guessing it's from the lemon juice concentrate listed in the ingredients.

On it's own, this was really tangy! I was surprised at first, because most fruit-butters are very sweet and nearly caramelized, but this was significantly tangy. It's almost sour! I wasn't too sure how I felt about that at first, since it was so drastically different from any pumpkin butter I have had before. I noticed that there was a lot of juice/liquid on the surface of my butter. Maybe the lemon juice concentrate separated a bit? I stirred things up, and the flavor was still tangier than other pumpkin butters I have had, but it was a lot less intense. I guess this just separated a little bit on the shelves.

With everything mixed up, this was a really enjoyable pumpkin butter. Is tastes like a thinner version of pumpkin pie filling, again, nearly applesauce-like in consistency, and it has a lemony tang to it that prevents it from being too sweet. I don't think I would use this on my toast, it's was too liquid-y, but I thought I'd try and amp up the pumpkin flavoring in that oatmeal I reviewed yesterday.

I added a big spoonful to a bowl of that Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal and stirred everything up. The results? It was a LOT more pumpkin-y. (Which is kind of an obvious result. I mean I literally added pumpkin to it, what did I really expect?) I liked the oatmeal even more with this butter-y addition, and I could see this stuff being a great pastry filling. (Maybe even some kind of pumpkin pie wonton? I made those before with canned pumpkin pie filling, but this might be even better.)
On a Pumpkin Scale of 1-5 (5 being the most pumpkin-y) I’d give this a 4. It is made with basic ingredients, and pumpkin is the first thing listed (of course) so there is plenty of authentic pumpkin flavoring. The spice blend is enjoyable, and very similar to every other pumpkin butter on the market, but the added tanginess is really nice. I don't think this will be my end-all-be-all pumpkin butter brand, but I like how different it is from everything else on the market and I would repurchase it. 
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