Tag Archives | maple syrup

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!

Comments { 7 }

Empty Kitchen French Toast

french toast makings

We’ve been back from our honeymoon for the last couple of days, but I haven’t done much of anything creative in the kitchen as of yet. I’m still eying the pile of wedding gifts, trying to incorporate the new gadgets and pots into my already overfull galley (truly, a blessed problem to have). However, the very first morning we were back, weary of having to shower and dress before venturing out for breakfast, I made my lazy morning specialty.

French toast is one of those meals that doesn’t really require a recipe. It’s about taking a few end bits from the refrigerator and making a meal that elevates those humble, half-stale, slightly sour ingredients into something satisfying (and refreshingly cheap)! In our case, I didn’t even have to resort to the slightly sour, as there was an unopened quart of half and half in the fridge with an expiration date that was still three weeks in the future. There were also three lonely eggs and four slices of multi-grain bread (two of which were the heels).

Soaking bread

I beat those eggs in a shallow dish with several glugs of the half and half, until it was a mellow lemon color. Some cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg joined the egg mixture and a slice of bread went in. I heated my pancake/french toast griddle over medium heat and added a mostly unnecessary slick of butter (that griddle has been so well loved that it’s seasoned to the point where grease is hardly needed. But butter is so delicious).

My dad taught me to make french toast when I was young, and the point he always stressed was that it was important to give the bread a good soaking (but to watch carefully that you don’t oversoak). You want to get enough egg mixture into the fibers of the bread so that it puffs up like a custard while cooking. If your bread is particularly stale (which mine was), use a fork to score the slices in order to aid egg absorption.

french toast on griddle

Once your first slice is sufficiently saturated, carefully transfer it your pan. Follow suit with the rest of the slices of bread, as they’re ready. My griddle can accommodate four slices of bread, but if you don’t have such a roomy cooking vessel, feel free to cook them one or two at a time in frying pan (just don’t let them soak to bits if you’re using a smaller pan). Cook over medium heat, so that the slices have a chance to cook all the way through.

Scott eating french toast

Serve on a messy dining table, with some previously canned pear butter or some Vermont maple syrup.

Comments { 8 }