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Fall provides an abundance of fresh, local fruit: Apples, peaches and pears are ripe for the picking, and grapes weigh heavy on the vine. They’re wonderful to use fresh in pies, salads and more, and canning is a good way to preserve and enjoy them come winter.
Most of us usually turn to jellies and jams to preserve fall fruits, but there’s another treat out there that you might not have tried yet: fruit butters.
Delectable, spreadable fruit butters are easy to make and don’t require pectin. As an added bonus, they use less sugar than typical jellies, jams and preserves. Fruit butters get their name not from the addition of butter, but from their soft, butter-like consistency. The smooth, creamy condiments are made by slowly cooking fruit pulp and sugar. Spices can be added, but some people think this masks the fruity flavor brought out by the cooking process.
Fruit butters can be used as you would use jams or jellies, and they make excellent fillings for desserts, such as layer cakes and sandwich cookies. They can also be used to replace some of the fat in baked goods, as glazes on roasting meats, and as toppings on pancakes or French toast.
My go-to book for home canning, The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, contains many creative recipes for fruit butters, including the unexpected honeyed yellow-tomato butter. Peach butter is one of my favorites.
When making fruit butter, some people prefer to cook the fruit pulp slowly over a long period of time, such as in a slow cooker for as long as six to 12 hours. If you’re new to making fruit butters, start with small batches and experiment to find the technique you prefer.
About the Author: Lynda King writes the “Country Fare” column for Hobby Farm Home. Pick up the latest issue to find out what recipes she’s whipping up in her kitchen this season.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of Hobby Farm Home.