paint your palate

October 9th, 2011

The time has come to stow the double wide slow-cooker and the never-rusts food mill to their respective boxes and their respective shelves in the kitchen annex for another year, because fruit butter season is officially over.

During autumn, the orchards and vineyards that pepper the landscape up here in the north country are laden with New England’s favorite apples, pears and grapes and this means that over a 6-8 week period the house smells of fruit pies, crumbles, and crisps along with sauces, chutneys and our all time favorite, fruit butter.

Be it apple, pear, grape or combinations thereof, fruit butters have a complex and luxurious flavor that suggest a laborious process, which it certainly was in the olden days when two days worth of stirring rendered up what today’s slow-cooker can do with very little assistance.

Toss out those antiquated recipes that call for pounds of sugar, and absolutely never discard fruit skins, seeds and cores because that is where the pectin comes from which help ‘set’ the butter.  Spice seasoning is for the cook to choose, and I usually take a minimalist route to let the true flavors of the fruits shine through.

Quarter up five pounds of apples and chuck them into a slow cooker with about an inch of apple cider.  No peeling, coring or seeding needed, in fact the seeds hold the pectin that helps set the butter.  After six or so hours, the apples will have broken down into a big pot of apple mush.  Leave it to cool overnight.

The next day, put the apple mush through a food mill to extract the seeds and skin.  Return the cleaned mush to the slow cooker and add your favorite flavorings; cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, maple syrup, brown sugar and for a special kick, Calvados.

Fruit Butters

 

Related Recipes

Apple Butter

Pounds of sugar and commercial pectin are not necessary.  Stewing the apples with the seeds and skin provide all the pectin required to ‘set’ the butter.  Add additional spices, if you like, such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or Calvados.

You will need a large slow-cooker, a food mill and basic canning equipment for this recipe.

For complete canning instructions please go here. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

For 8-9 half-pint jars:

  • 5 pounds cooking apples, washed
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon allspice

Pour apple cider into a large slow-cooker.  Turn heat to high.  Remove stems from apples and cut into quarters.  Add apples to slow-cooker and put the lid on.  Stir occasionally over a 5-6 hour period or until apples have broken down to mush.  Let mush cool.

Place a food mill with a medium-sized disc over a large bowl.  Spoon apple mush into mill and process in batches until all apples have been milled.  Rinse slow-cooker to remove any lingering skin or seeds.

Return milled mush to the slow-cooker with the sugar and allspice.  Stir occasionally over a 5-6 hour period with the led slightly ajar.  Butter will deepen in color and thicken.  When desired consistency is reached, prepare a canning station.

 

Process jars for 10 minutes.

Grape Butter

Pounds of sugar and commercial pectin are not necessary.  Stewing the grapes with the seeds and skin provide all the pectin required to ‘set’ the butter.  Add additional spices, if you like, such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg.

Apples are added to provide sufficient mush to the grape butter.

You will need a large slow-cooker, a food mill and basic canning equipment for this recipe.

For complete canning instructions please go here. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

For 8-9 half-pint jars:

  • 3 pounds black grapes with seeds, washed
  • 2 pounds cooking apples, washed
  • 2 cups grape juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon allspice

Pour grape juice into a large slow-cooker.  Turn heat to high.  Remove stems from grapes and cut in half.  Remove stems from apples and cut into quarters.  Add grapes and apples to slow-cooker and put the lid on.  Stir occasionally over a 5-6 hour period or until fruit has broken down to mush.  Let mush cool.

Place a food mill with a medium-sized disc over a large bowl.  Spoon fruit mush into mill and process in batches.  Rinse slow-cooker to remove any lingering skin or seeds.

Return milled mush to the slow-cooker with the sugar and allspice.  Stir occasionally over a 5-6 hour period with the led slightly ajar.  Butter will deepen in color and thicken.  When desired consistency is reached, prepare a canning station.

Process jars for 10 minutes.

Pear Butter

Pounds of sugar and commercial pectin are not necessary.  Stewing the pears with the seeds and skin provide all the pectin required to ‘set’ the butter.  Add additional spices, if you like, such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg.

You will need a large slow-cooker, a food mill and basic canning equipment for this recipe.

For complete canning instructions please go here. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

For 8-9 half-pint jars

  • 5 pounds pears, e.g. Bartlett, washed
  • 2 cups spring water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon allspice

Pour water into a large slow-cooker.  Turn heat to high.  Remove stems from pears and cut into quarters.  Add pears to slow-cooker and put the lid on.  Stir occasionally over a 5-6 hour period or until pears have broken down to mush.  Let mush cool.

Place a food mill with a medium-sized disc over a large bowl.  Spoon pear mush into mill and process in batches until all pears have been milled.  Rinse slow-cooker to remove any lingering skin or seeds.

Return milled mush to the slow-cooker with the sugar and allspice.  Stir occasionally over a 5-6 hour period with the led slightly ajar.  Butter will deepen in color and thicken.  When desired consistency is reached, prepare a canning station.

Process jars for 10 minutes.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.