Strawberry hibiscus butter. Smooth and spreadable, this low sugar preserve gets an added boost of color and brightness from the dried hibiscus blossoms.
We are smack in the midst of strawberry season here in the Philadelphia region. I picked up a flat on Saturday and the boys and I (they are nearly three years old!) met some friends out in Bucks County yesterday for a round of picking. I am still trying to find my way back to the blog after a quiet winter and spring, so while I dust off my rusty recipe development skills, I thought it would be nice to share this recipe for strawberry hibiscus butter that I wrote for a 2018 issue of Taproot Magazine.
Strawberries are an essential ingredient in any preserver’s kitchen and I love working with them. The one downside is that if you want to make a lower sugar jam or butter with strawberries, the finished product often fades in color after a couple months on the shelf. I have found dried hibiscus blooms can help boost the color with their natural hue and bring they also bring a welcome tang to the finished flavor (they are high in an array of acidic compounds).
To make this recipe, you clean, hull, and quarter four pounds of berries. Once they are ready, you add two cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of dried hibiscus blossoms that you’ve tucked into a large teaball or bundled into a length of cheesecloth. Let the berries macerate at room temperature for an hour and then place the pot on the stove to cook.
Bring the berries to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is tender and quite reduced. When making jams, I typically advise a hot and fast cooking approach, but because the intended outcome here is essentially a thickened puree, this method works best.
Once the berries are completely tender and the volume of liquid is greatly reduced, remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Funnel into clean, hot jars and process (make sure to adjust the processing time if you live above 1,000 feet in elevation).
I like this preserve for kid peanut butter sandwiches, because it’s not super sugary. It’s also a good one for filling thumbprint cookies or using as a filling in a rolled bun.
Questions about Strawberry Hibiscus Butter
Can I freeze this butter instead of canning it? Sure! Just make sure to use straight sided glass jars or clean plastic containers, and leave plenty of headspace to account for expansion.
Can I use a different sweetener in this recipe? This recipe would work well with either honey or maple syrup (use in the same volume as the sugar). I don’t recommend using an artificial sweetener like Splenda or monk fruit, as they will become bitter during the long cooking time.
Can I make this with frozen berries? Yes! Place in the pot frozen and cover with the sugar. Let the sugared berries defrost completely and then proceed.
Strawberry Hibiscus Butter
- 4 pounds strawberries
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dried hibiscus blossoms
- Wash the berries, remove the hulls and cut them into quarters. Heap the chopped berries in a large, non-reactive pot and add the sugar. Stir to combine.
- Bundle the hibiscus blossoms in a length of cheesecloth or a large tea ball and nestle it in with the berries. Let the berries macerate at room temperature for an hour, until they are quite juicy.
- Place the pot on the stove and bring the contents to a boil over high heat. Reduce the temperature to medium and simmer the strawberries uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes. They are done when the berries are very tender and the liquid has thickened.
- While the berries cook, prepare a boiling water bath canner and three pint jars (six half pints are also acceptable). Wash new lids in warm, soaping water and set aside.
- Remove the pot from the heat, remove hibiscus ball/bundle, and puree the cooked berries with an immersion blender.
- Funnel the finished butter into the prepared canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, remove the lid from the pot and turn off the heat. Let the jars rest in the cooling water for five minutes. When that time is up, remove jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.