Most us want to preserve the bounty of fruit we collect while berry picking or when we buy too much beautiful fruit at the farmers markets. Luscious jams and jellies often feel like the first choice, but few of us have the time for that. Besides, who wants to heat up their house in the dreaded heat of August anyway? Slow-cooker fruit butter is a simple solution for preserving large quantities of fruit without any canning equipment or heating up the stove.
Preparing the Fruit
Fruit butter can be made from almost any variety of fruit (save citrus), including berries, stone fruit, and apples. This recipe is for strawberry butter, but you can substitute an equal amount of another fruit.
Choose fresh fruit that is free of blemishes and bruises. Peel and pit or core stone fruits, like peaches and mangoes, as well as apple or quinces. Rinse and stem berries. Dice apples, mangoes, or peaches into one-inch pieces. Halve large strawberries.
Customizing the Flavor
The recipe below calls for a single cup of granulated sugar, but light brown sugar can be substituted. Fruit butters can be enhanced with herbs and spices as well. Strawberry butter is incredible with a hint of vanilla. Add ginger or cardamom to peach butter. Apple butter is always delicious with the cinnamon-nutmeg treatment.
Evaporation for Concentration
Evaporation is the difference between making a true fruit butter and just making fruit purée. The slow cooking process drives out water while concentrating flavor. Two chopsticks straddled over the slow-cooker crock with the lid rested on top of them will allow the slow cooker to vent and release moisture while the fruit butter cooks.
Storing and Using
Store the finished fruit butter in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Fruit butter will last about 10 days stored in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer. Serve fruit butter on biscuits or toast for breakfast or fold it into pancake or waffle batter. Top yogurt or granola with fruit butter, or thin it with a little lemon juice for topping ice cream.
How To Make Any Fruit Butter in the Slow Cooker
Makes about 6 cups
What You Need
strawberries or desired fruit
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Knife and cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
6-quart or larger slow cooker
Prepare the fruit: Rinse the strawberries under cool water. Remove their stems and halve. (For other fruit, peel or pit as needed, then cut into 1-inch chunks).
Season: Put the strawberries or fruit into a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the sugar and salt, and stir to combine.
Slow-cook: Place a wooden spoon or wooden chopsticks across the top of the slow cooker, then place the lid on top (this will allow the fruit butter to vent and reduce). Cook on the LOW setting, stirring every few hours, until thick and spreadable, 10 to 12 hours. Make sure to re-vent the lid after each stir.
Cool: Turn off the slow cooker, add the lemon juice, stir to combine, and let cool completely uncovered. If you want a smooth consistency, blend with an immersion blender or transfer to a stand blender and blend.
Store: Transfer to sealed containers and refrigerate or freeze.
Storage: Store in sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or in the freezer for 6 months. The fruit butter can be stored at room temperature if properly canned (but refrigerate once the jars are opened).