Fruit Butters

A "butter" is a thick, smooth sauce made by straining fruit or vegetables. You can use a butter just like a jam, to spread on pancakes or bread, but it doesn't have nearly as much sugar in it. Just cook up the food with enough sweetening to suit you, add any other seasoning you want, can it, and you're done. Personally I think the tarter fruits make better butters. Peach or sweet cherry butter turns out almost too sweet. But apple and apple cider butter made with a tart variety of apple is good, and apple-plum butter is our alltime family favorite (recipe under "Apple" in Chapter 6).

We first started making apple-plum butter at our first home in Juliaetta, 4 miles down the road from here. The nearest thing that place had to an orchard was a big walnut tree in the front yard—so when fruit season came, I scavenged up and down the highways and byways. This region is unusual in that everywhere, throughout the years, pioneers and others have stopped to lunch or picnic and have left apple cores and plum pits. The volunteer apple and plum trees generally have a smaller fruit, but they are loaded almost every year and free for the picking. So the children and I would drive down the road with a back seat full of cardboard boxes and then go home and make apple-plum butter, one-third plum to two-thirds apple.

Lady Cook Sketches

making a Butter: It basically takes long cooking over very mild stove-top heat. You have to watch it closely and stir very frequently. For fruits, cook in an enamel or stainless-steel pan and use a wooden spoon to stir. Cook on low heat slowly for a long time. If you are very busy, cook it in the oven instead, in a covered kettle at a temperature of 300-350°E Then you don't have to stir it, and it doesn't burn on the bottom. If your sauce doesn't get smooth enough to suit you, put it through a rotary colander after cooking. Season your finished butter with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, or whatever you like.

Foley Mill or Rotary Colander: This is a cone-shaped colander with a wooden mallet to help work the stuff through. You fill it with goop and then turn the wooden mallet, rolling it around the sides of the colander. Don't just stomp with the mallet—that gets you nowhere. Canning a Fruit Butter: Have the butter boiling on the stove and proceed by my directions under "Canning" in this chapter. Use the times under "Applesauce" in Chapter 6. Be careful, because the thick sauce is hard to heat clear through.

freezing: Just pour into a container, cool, and put in the freezer. Can or freeze butters in half pints or pints because a butter that isn't heavily sweetened will mold in a couple weeks, even if refrigerated, unless you can depend on your family to eat it up faster than that.

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