Tag Archives | fruit butter

How to Make Homemade Quince Butter

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alexandra Jones is here today with a recipe for homemade quince butter. Quince is one of my favorites and I loved this glimpse into her process! -Marisa

quince for homemade quince butter

Quince is one of my favorite fruits to preserve — and where I am in Pennsylvania, it’s also one of the hardest to find.

Luckily, I happened on a farmers’ market in Old City Philadelphia recently where Beechwood Orchards, the only farm I know to offer quince at retail, happened to have a single crate on their stand. After sending out a quick alert over social media — quince spotted! — I promptly bought several pounds.

Peeled and chopped quince for homemade quince butter

It may seem silly to go so wild over a fruit that, when grown in a temperate climate, you can’t even eat raw, although its floral scent will perfume any room in which you stash your fruit. Quince flesh is dry, tannic, and unpalatable until you poach slices in syrup or cook it down with sugar into a thick paste, when it becomes tender, toothsome, vibrant and bright, with that unmistakable floral note.

The traditional way to prepare quince is as quince paste, or membrillo — cooking down the mixture so long with sugar that it becomes a firm, sliceable brick after refrigeration, still tender in texture but more like a fruit cheese than a spread.

quince puree for homemade quince butter

But knowing that I might not come upon quince again for another few years, I decided to find a way to can it, with visions of giving some away for the holidays. It’s delightful to serve on a cheese board alongside aged wedges made the traditional way. I found a Williams-Sonoma recipe for inspiration and set to work.

While parts of the recipe were really out-of-whack — the quince were supposed to redden in 20 minutes, according to the recipe, but this took closer to three hours in my kitchen, and resting the pot off the heat didn’t help redden them at all — I ended up with a dreamy finished product.

pink quince puree for homemade quince butter

It isn’t a chunky jam nor a runny compote, and it’s not a firm-set fruit cheese more reminiscent of membrillo. The best way I can describe it is quince butter — despite the sugar added.

It’s lush, smooth, and stands up on a spoon in a way that’s reminiscent of my favorite long-cooked, no-sugar butters made with sweeter fruits. Spread it on a thick slice of toast with good cultured butter, drizzle it over drop biscuits with whipped cream or ice cream, or spoon an artful dollop onto your next cheese board.

finished homemade quince butter

While it might take a little effort to track down quince in your area, those of you in the northeast may still be able to track some down (I assume you may also have luck in California, though I’m not sure of the fruit’s season out there.) I’ve also seen specimens grown overseas at Asian markets here in Philly. But once you get your hands on some and get a taste , you’ll know if was worth it.

My four pounds of quince cooked down into six pints of supple, rosy butter over a few hours on low heat, but you should be able to halve (or double) this recipe without issue. I canned mine in a mix of half-pints and quarter-pints, perfect for gifting or bringing to a party — or hoarding all to yourself.

finished homemade quince butter

I also swapped out the spices in the original recipe with a few long sprigs of rosemary from my garden. I might add another the next time I make this, hopefully sooner than later.

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Low Sugar Apple Ginger Butter

A light, silky apple butter with shot through with fresh ginger. Try it with latkes instead of plain applesauce.

Apple Ginger Butter - Food in Jars

Back in October, Janet sent me two boxes. One contained an assortment of apples and the other was filled with fragrant, fuzzy quince. I laid the fruit out on big, rimmed sheet pan and spent a day admiring it (and sniffing the quince for the pleasure of their rosy scent).

apples for butter - Food in Jars

Soon though, it was time to get down to the business of preserving. There were enough apples for two recipes (we’ll talk about the quince later). I transformed half the apples into a batch of maple sweetened butter (like this one, but with several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar stirred in at the end for extra tang). The remaining six pounds became this light, gingery butter.

apple butter on the stove - Food in Jars

I’ll confess, I’ve gone back and and forth inside my head, debating as to whether or not to actually call this recipe a butter. You see, most of us think of fruit butters as intensely dense things, brown from spices and hours on the stove.

This apple and ginger preserve is light in color and silky in texture. It is zippy and bright where a traditional butter is earthy. But jam isn’t quite right. Neither is jelly, conserve, sauce, or puree. Until I come up with a better name, butter will just have to do.

apple ginger nectar - Food in Jars

If you decide to make this preserve, make sure to save those cores and peels left over from prepping the apples. Heap them into a saucepan, add more fresh ginger, and fill the pot with water.

Let it simmer away on the back burner for an hour or so, until the peels are soft and translucent. Once strained, you’ll have an apple-ginger nectar that is delicious sipped warm or chilled. It’s an almost effortless way to get all the goodness from your apples that you can.

Apple Ginger Butter close - Food in Jars

In this, the season of latkes (Hanukkah starts on December 6!), I can think of no higher calling for this butter than a top a disc of fried potatoes. However, if latkes aren’t your thing, don’t think you can write this one off. It’s awfully good stirred into a bowl of steel cut oats and I can’t stop imagining it layered into shortbread bar cookie.

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Strawberry Maple Butter

strawberry puree

For weeks now, I’ve been meaning to write up my recipe for the strawberry maple butter (hinted at here) I made recently (I liked it so much, I made it twice in rapid succession). And so, I finally sat down to do so tonight, only to realize that I didn’t take any pretty finished pictures of it.

However, instead of being defeated by my lack of artful images (I’ll add one tomorrow), I decided to dig in and write the post anyway, since strawberry season is starting to wane around these parts (and is already entirely over for some of you).

cooking strawberry butter

This one is much like the other fruit butters I’ve made in the past (and is nearly identical to the blueberry butter from four years ago). You start by pureeing enough fruit to fill your slow cooker up at least 3/4 of the way. For my four quart cooker, I found that four pounds of berries did the job nicely. Then, turn the cooker on low and let it run.

If you’re going to be in and out of your kitchen, you can leave the lid off and give it a good stir every half hour or so. The reason for the stir is that if you leave the lid off and don’t stir regularly, a skin forms on the surface of the butter that makes it impossible for the steam to escape.

If you’re not going to be around, set a chopstick across the rim of the slow cooker and then put the lid on. This allows the slow cooker to vent a little, but also ends up trapping just enough moisture to prevent the growth of the skin.

maple strawberry butter

I tend to let this butter cook anywhere from 16 to 24 hours. So much depends on the volume of fruit you start with, the amount of water it contains, and how much heat your slow cooker produces when set to low (I prefer older slow cookers for this task because they cook at lower temperatures). I have been known to cook my fruit butters overnight, but I don’t recommend doing that until you understand how your particular slow cooker works with butters.

So, once your strawberries have cooked down to a dense product that doesn’t have any visible liquid on the surface, it is done. I like to hit it with an immersion blender at the end of cooking, to ensure that it’s perfectly smooth.

Once you like the texture, you add maple syrup to taste. My batches each produced about three half pints, which I sweetened with 1/3 cup of maple syrup. I also included two tablespoons of lemon juice to help keep the color, brighten the flavor, and increase the acid load just a little (strawberries are typically quite high in acid, but maple syrup is low in acid, so a little extra lemon juice makes sure that all is well, safety-wise).

You can process this butter in half pint jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. It’s a good one. If you can still get beautiful strawberries, I highly recommend it!

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Preserves in Action: Five-Ingredient Fruit Butter Granola

five-ingredient granola

Last week, as I got myself ready to head to Texas to wait for my nephew to be born, I had a list a mile long. There were deadlines to meet, cooking projects to finish and photograph and a batch of granola to make. I kept hammering away at the list all week and late Sunday night, while I packed for my very early Monday morning flight, I finally got to the granola.

The granola served many purposes. It was so I didn’t show up at my sister’s house empty-handed (though at the last minute, I also threw these Danish into my carry-on). It was to use up the open jar of mixed fruit butter that was in its last days. And it was finally try the fruit butter granola trick that Kaela used last fall (my recipe memory is long).

fruit butter granola

I slimmed the recipe way down from the original. My fruit butter was spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, so I figured no additional spices were necessary. And since I’d been cleaning out the pantry in preparation for my trip, there wasn’t much in the way of nuts to add. So it was just oats (2 cups), raw pecans (3/4 cup), toasted and salted pepitas (3/4 cup) and 1 cup of that fruit butter.

five-ingredient granola

Stirred together and toasted at 325 degrees for 35 minutes (turned on the baking sheet several times), it is delicious, crisp and not too sweet. I also stirred in half a cup of dried blueberries once the granola was cool. The perfect thing for travel and for breakfasts for very pregnant ladies.

It’s a formula you could use with just about any fruit butter or sauce (applesauce would be terrific) and any nuts you’ve got. If you’ve got unsalted nuts, I’d add a quick sprinkle of sea salt to balance the flavors and bring out the sweetness of the butter.

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Slow Cooker Canning*: Apricot Peach Butter

peach-apricot butter

Yesterday was a two slow cooker day in my apartment (and apparently, I’m not the only one turning to a slow cooking during this heat wave). My six quart crock spent eight hours cooking a pork butt in unctuous submission (in a slurry of tomato butter, plum jam and cider vinegar) while my vintage four quart workhorse turned nine cups of peach and apricot puree into five cups of fruit butter.

Now, I’ve posted about fruit butters before. There’s my basic post about how to make a fruit butter. The orange-rhubarb butter. Strawberry-rhubarb butter. Blueberry butter. Tomato butter. There’s even a Q&A devoting to clarifying issues around making butters in the slow cooker. Obviously, this is well traveled turf in my kitchen and on this blog.

But it’s worth mentioning again. Because it’s so damn good and easy. This most recent butter of mine combines five cups of apricot puree with four cups peach puree (the proportions were born out of what I had in my kitchen, you don’t have to be wedded exactly to what I did).

Combine in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours, until it reduces by nearly half (prop the lid with a wooden spoon, so that the steam can escape). Add sugar to taste (this batch received 3/4 cup granulated white sugar). Process with an immersion blender should you want a finer texture. Funnel into jars (leaving 1/2 inch headspace) and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

That’s it. You can use more sugar should you feel the need. You could add a little bit of cinnamon. A vanilla bean in the slow cooker along with the fruit could be nice. Lemon zest should it need a zing (this batch was plenty tart all on its own).

Eat on yogurt. Pair with cheese. Stir into oatmeal. Spread on toast. Love. Enjoy.

*Before you ask. No, you cannot process jars in a slow cooker. You can ONLY use it to cook a preserve.

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