Over a Cup of Coffee: Making fruit butters
July 24, 2015
Last week this column featured Louise Irvine's recipe for "Old-style Apple Butter." The recipe came from a cookbook called "Putting Food By," given to Louise by her mother-in-law a long time ago. The pages Louise gave me had some other tips for making fruit butters that I thought readers might find useful.
Remember that the safety rules for food preservation have changed over the years. Check out the current canning rules by calling the Moffat County Extension Office at 970-824-9180. You can also find "Blue Ball Food Guide to Preserving" at the office. It costs $15.
A reader asked me about ways to use the larger variety of crabapples. If you have suggestions, please call me at 970-824-8809 or write to me at Box 415, Craig 81626, and I'll pass the information along. In the meantime, I hope the following information will be useful.
Louise's cookbook pages suggest that, while apples are the most common butter ingredient, you can also use apricots, crabapples, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, and quinces — or you can use fruit mixtures.
You can use the good parts of culls or windfall fruits to make butters. These are hints for preparing the fruits:
Apples — Quarter and add ½ as much water or cider (or part water and part cider) as fruit.
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Apricots — Pit, crush, and add ¼ as much water as fruit.
Crabapple — Quarter, cut out stems and blossom ends, and add ½ as much water as fruit.
Grapes — Remove stems, crush grapes, and cook in own juice.
Peaches — Dip in boiling water to loosen skins; peel, pit, crush, and cook in their own juice.
Pears — Remove stems and blossom ends. Quarter and add ½ as much water as fruit.
Plums — Crush and cook in their own juice. The pits will strain out.
Quinces — Remove stems and blossom ends. They're hard, so cut in small pieces and add as much water as fruit.
To make the pulp:
Cook the fruits as directed until their pulp is soft. Watch it — it may stick. Put the cooked fruit through a colander to get rid of the skins and pits; then press the pulp through a food mill or sieve to get out all of the fibers.
Sugar and Cooking:
Usually ½ cup of sugar to each 1 cup of fruit pulp makes a fine butter. According to the directions: "It's easiest to use at one time not more than 4 cups of fruit pulp, plus the added sugar." Let the sugar dissolve in the pulp over low heat, then bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thick, stirring often to prevent scorching. When the butter is thick enough to round slightly in a spoon and shows a glossiness or sheen, pack while still hot into hot, sterilized ½ pint or pint canning jars, leaving ½ inch headroom. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath (212 degrees) for 10 minutes. Remove jars, complete seals, if necessary. Cool and store.
*Remember to check current safety canning rules.
Alternative cooking method:
To help prevent scorching, put about ¾ of the hot, uncooked puree in a large, uncovered, heatproof crockery dish or enameled roasting pan and cook it in a 275- to 300-degree oven until it thickens. As the volume shrinks and there is room in the dish, add the other ¼ of the puree. When the butter is thick but still moist on top, ladle it into the containers and process.
Courtesy of Louise Irving of Craig From "Putting Food By"