Thanks to the very hot spring we had here in the mid-Atlantic region, strawberry season has come earlier this year than it has in the last few. This has thrown my preserving time line off in the worst way and has left me unduly panicked, worried that if I didn’t act quickly, I would miss the season entirely.
However, I’ve also been stretched thin by commitments in the last few weeks and have been working hard to reserve at least a few hours of my weekend for relaxing, as opposed to filling every moment with lunches, activities and appointments with my vacuum cleaner.
This means that I made a tough decision last weekend to skip out on my annual strawberry picking day and simply buy a flat of local strawberries instead. Thanks to my friend Albert, I was able to get a flat (eight quarts) of berries for not too much money from the Fair Food Farmstand. I was sad to miss the trip out to New Jersey, but something had to give and the picking was it. After all, it’s not like I can give up canning!
Thanks to that quick acquisition of fruit, I’ve now made a batch of that wonderful strawberry vanilla jam I first produced last year, as well as this lovely, sticky, spreadable strawberry rhubarb butter (I couldn’t help but pop a vanilla bean in this one while cooking as well).
This is my second batch of butter so far this year, and I am totally pleased with how it turned out. I’m finding that while I do get smaller yields with butters than jams, I far prefer having that smaller cluster of jars filled with something I know I’ll eat and enjoy than having a seemingly promiscuous quantity of jam (it might sound strange, but I still have so much jam left from last year that needs to be eaten that it feels a bit burdensome – I hate to be wasteful).
While I was cooking this batch, I took a quick video, so you all could see what butter should look like as it’s coming towards the end of its cooking time. Check out those thick, active bubbles. That’s what you’re looking for.
Also, I wanted to point out the knife peeking out up there in second picture. Recently, I was contacted by the folks at New West KnifeWorks, asking me if I’d like to try out their knives. They sent me both a chef’s and pairing knife to try out (yes, for free). They are absolutely gorgeous and are a joy to use (particularly that handy little pairing knife). If you’re in the market for some new (although admittedly pricy) knives, I highly suggest you add these to your list for consideration.
Strawberry Rhubarb Butter
- 4 cups chopped rhubarb
- 4 cups mashed strawberries
- 1 vanilla bean split
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Combine the rhubarb, berries, the split vanilla bean and a cup of the sugar in a large, non-reactive pot. Stir until the sugar has drawn some liquid out of the berries and then turn the heat onto medium low.
- Cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly, until the pieces of rhubarb and strawberries have broken down. At this point, reduce the heat even further and let the butter simmer over very low heat.
- When the butter has reduced to about half its original volume, taste it. Adjust the sugar to taste, adding up to another half cup. Cook until the sugar has dissolved into the butter. Remove the butter from the heat. Fish the vanilla bean pieces out and put them aside.
- Fill your prepared jars, wipe the rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process filled jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (starting time when water returns to a boil).When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a towel-lined counter top. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and check the seals.
- This butter will keep 6 to 9 months if stored in a cool, dark place. It is good to eat right away, though.
Glorious! I must jar up a batch of this. I still have carte blanche on my neighbors rhubarb patch and Quebec strawberries are just coming into season!
Love those knives, too.
ohhh this will do nicely next CSA day!
Fantastic. I started doing fruit butters last year and I’m addicted. And I know what you mean about the leftover jam. I get so excited and then am left with dozens of jars!
This looks so, so good: I’m putting it on my list to try. Fruit butter!
Can’t wait to try this! Small question though. I haven’t canned much myself, but I always helped my mom and grandma can. Is there really a certain amount of time to wait before eating it? (you mentioned 6-9 months) Is that specifically for butter? I just don’t remember waiting all that long to eat some of the jam and stuff that we canned.
You don’t have to wait. The time she cited is how long the quality will maintain on the shelf.
How many pint jars does this make?
SarahL, you can eat this butter immediately, you don’t have to wait any time at all. The 6-9 month storage recommendation is the longest you should keep it (butter has less sugar in it than jam, and so doesn’t keep as long).
Debbie, oops, left that out! This recipe makes two pints, although I recommend using half-pint jars for this recipe (I like to can thick products in smaller jars, so that the heat can better penetrate the jar during processing).
We have New West Knifeworks knives and in addition to being beautiful, I could not be happier with how they work! They keep an edge REALLY REALLY well and are well-balanced.
Thanks for the new ideas of how to use rhubarb – one can only make so many strawberry rhubarb pies!
I understand how you feel burdened by having too much good food to eat and are worried about wasting it. I feel that way with the first of my garden produce ripening and I always try to incorporate zucchini into every meal. I’m really enjoying the butter recipes, keep ’em coming 🙂
Wow, This looks great! I’ve never used or eaten rhubarb so I’m excited to try this one. just one little question about the end of the post where you said to store for 6-9 months…I’m assuming this is the shelf life…? Or does it need to sit that long BEFORE eating?
I actually have a pot of this cooking down on the stove right now. I am doubling the recipe tho since I had enough strawberries. Can’t wait for it to be done!!!!
Thank you so much for this glorious recipe!
I think I will have to make this . . . I have strawberries coming out of my ears from our little patch! I’ve made honey-sweetened freezer jam so far this year, but wasn’t impressed with the cooked strawberry jam I made last year. Not enough strawberry flavor. We don’t eat that much jam so I think the butter would be just the ticket to both get that strong flavor I seek as well as the shelf-stableness that I need.
quick question- about how long should this take to make? (just wondering if I will be up all night stirring boiling rhubarb!)
wow-that looks amazing!! your photographs are gorgeous and every single one of these recipes looks delicious! I will definitely be stopping by again, as I start to can more!
Good luck in my NuNaturals Giveaway! Have you ever used sugar substitute when canning? It’s a tough balance, because sugar does have important preservation characteristics.
Last year I made the strawberry and rhubarb jams seperate, and after using your strawberry jam recipe, I thought the vanilla bean in my rhubarb would be good too.
It was perfect. It added the perfect flavor. 🙂 I am sure it would be wonderful in the butter also. (I do end up explaining to almost everyone who tries it that it’s not pepper in the jam though) 🙂
If I get some more rhubarb in my CSA I think I’m going to try this recipe out. I like the use of the vanilla bean as well 🙂
This looks fantastic – can’t wait to give it a try!
That jam looks amazing! Great pictures, too.
I just made this today with the last of our garden strawberries and rhubarb. Amazing. THIS was the flavor I was looking for when making strawberry jam – I’m almost tempted to go buy some supermarket strawberries to make one more batch it is so good!
I am a fruit butter convert.
Thank you for the amazing recipe!
Butters can also be easily made in the crock pot. It takes a bit longer, but it won’t burn so easily. Just start it up and walk away. So long as you come back to stir it up every half hour or so, you can do other things instead of standing over a hot stove.
I got all the ingredients from my CSA and one thing i noticed is if you read the recipe really fast you dump the whole cup and a half into the mix. It might be nice to break your ingredient list to say 1 cup plus 1/2 cup as needed.
I fished 1/4 cup back out as i kept reading and my berries will need extra since they were a little tart.
Also some times on the recipe would be nice. Just ball park times. I have a feeling the entire process to reduce down to half will take at least an hour and a half to get to molten lava like.
Awesome recipe non the less. Cant wait to taste the results!
Sorry, one more comment. Real vanilla beans a are crazy expensive. a Tsp of vanilla extract can substitute and much easier on the wallet.
I buy my vanilla beans on ebay. You can get a pound of beans for around $20, which makes them far more wallet-friendly. I find that their flavor is more nuanced than what you get with vanilla extract. -Marisa
Good idea on the ebay thing, but as much as i use vanilla i think i will stick to my vanilla extract. The addition really does add to your recipe taste and i do recommend people use vanilla extract or bean in it.
I got 4 pints and took nearly 4 hours to get to a true butter consistency and canned it in a water bath. It is an all nighter, but worth it.
I think the kids will appreciate the Disney lids. 🙂
I’ve found that a great way to use up ‘leftover jam’ is to make squares for bringing to a potluck – or to work, if you like your co-workers enought. The Real Simple website has a recipe for “Apricot Crumbles”, but I’ve found that these are delicious with any flavour of homemade jam – and I usually make two 9×13 pans (oven’s on anyway) and triple the dough recipe (but make it in three batches or your processor won’t be happy with you). Split half of the dough between the pans, slather three or four half-pints of mixed jam between the two, and top with the rest of the dough. I’m sure this would be fine with any similar recipe, and it’s much easier than say, baking a pie – and no one will know that it was ‘last year’s jam *gasp!*
Excellent description I can’t wait to try that.
I made this a couple weeks ago and it is INCREDIBLE! Yummy Yummy Yummy! Thank you for your inspiration!
I made this last night! Delicious! I immediately had what was left over from canning with some plain greek yogurt. So yummy!
I’m going to give a jar of this, along with a jar of peach jam, to friends as a wedding gift!
I love your blog. Thanks for all the inspiration!
I love how thorough your recipes are and all the great info on how to can safely but also creatively. I’m reigning in my creative ways to stick to the rules with canning as you have made it clear how important those rules are for safe food and gift giving. But I am trying to get a sense of the different safety issues and was wondering why jam and jelly recipes have acid added (lemon juice for example) and fruit butters (which I love so much more because they are less sweet) don’t seem to need this addition. Is it due to adding less sugar? What are ways you can safely experiment with fruit butter recipes and ways you shouldn’t?
Kristen, when you add lemon juice to jam, you’re not doing it to guarantee safety. It’s there to improve flavor and ensure set (this is particularly true when you’re working with commercial pectin). So it’s not necessary in fruit butters for safety unless you’re working with fruits that are low in acid like mangoes, white peaches, bananas, watermelon or dates.
Thank you for clarifying that. For some reason I thought the lemon juice was to insure a safe ph. It sounds like what your saying is that sometimes it is but most often it is not, at least when it comes to fruit jams and butters. What would you say has been your best resource for learning the science of safe food canning?
My strawberry-rhubarb butter separated and the texture is different at the bottom than the top after canning. What happened, and is it safe to eat still?
It is fine. Just stir it together when you open the jar. I might be that you didn’t simmer quite enough liquid out of it during cooking.
Okay that’s what I was thinking yay thank you 🙂
Delicious! I’ve got 11 little jars of this cooling on my kitchen table right now, waiting to join the table of canned jams and chutneys I’m giving away as favors at my upcoming wedding. I’ve also made your strawberry jam (with vanilla) and rhubarb chutney this week, and while both turned out beautifully, this is by far my favorite so far.
I’d agree with the comment about being more explicit in the recipe about 1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup as needed; I just glanced at the amount and dumped the whole amount in. It’s a nice balance of tart and sweet right now, but I’d probably have edged off the sugar a bit if I’d read the recipe more carefully.
I love this! Went to the farmers market and picked up some rhubarb to go with the strawberries I had picked. But I was wondering if I could do this in the slow cooker like you did the blueberry butter.
What’s the least amount of sugar you can get away with? I want to try this sooooooooo bad, but am trying to stay away from as much sugar as possible. Thanks!
Rachael, you’re welcome to add sugar to taste on this one. Just remember that sugar is a preservative, so products that are lower in sugar won’t have the same long shelf life that high sugar jams have.
Thanks! I just made it with only a half cup of sugar. It is divine! I slabed that sucker on toast and I am hooked!
This was amazing! I cannot think of a better thing to make with the market’s last bunch of rhubarb on the last day for u-pick strawberries. Thank you!
Can you just use strawberry s and leave the rhubarb out? Have made other butters and love them but just want a Plain strawberry butter. Thank you
For fruit butters I use my crock pot. Being disabled this helps immensely in no longer needing to decide between letting the preserves burn because I can’t stand long enough or not preserving. I love that your recipes can be adjusted for slow cookers.
So after reading all of these responses, not once has anybody mentioned some sort of, maybe loose, kind of approximate, in the range of, between a-z, time factor. Not all of us are “butter queens” (although i am from Wisconsin). I’d like to have some idea if this is something i’d start in the evening, morning, what’s my time commitment. And yes, I know, not all stovetops, burners, flames, etc are the same. A simple range would be appreciated
TIME: I made a triple recipe and it took about 4 hours over a medium-low flame to reduce to where I wanted it. I ended up with 96 ounces, so that’s 2 pints per recipe as expected. I used the full amount of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla per recipe instead of the vanilla bean. Fairly arduous but delicious.
Hi Marisa! for the 4 cups mashed strawberries…does this mean 4 cups of strawberries AFTER they have been mashed down? Thanks!
Four cups of mashed strawberries means you measure the berries after they’ve been mashed. The other way around would be expressed as four cups strawberries, mashed.
Makes sense, thanks! I should have known better 🙂