WINTER FRUIT BUTTER & SPICED PLUM BUTTERS
Nothing is quite as special as a homemade gift that’s irresistibly delicious, versatile, healthful, and, best of all, made with that extra pinch of love! Here are two easy-as-pie fruit butter recipes that come together quickly and don’t require the fuss and extra time that canning involves. Refrigerated, the fruit butters keep for up to three months without losing their great flavors.
In winter, dried fruits lend such versatility. Imagine turning a clump of dried fruits into naturally sweet fruit butters you can spoon into little decorated jars and give as thoughtful gifts during the holidays. And how wonderful it is to be the lucky recipient of such a special gift.
Those who celebrate Kwanzaa place strong emphasis on giving homemade gifts. Wrapped in Kwanzaa colors–red, green, and black, either of these recipes make an ideal gift during the week of the Kwanzaa celebration from December 26 to January 1. Wrap the jars in blue fabric and ribbon for Hanukkah gifting.
Here’s another easy and quick idea that can perk up a humdrum breakfast:
Put a few dollops of fruit butter on top of your morning oatmeal or hot cereal, sprinkle some nuts on top, and enjoy that little touch of something different for breakfast.
When I make oatmeal for breakfast, I usually make a fruit salad with whatever fruits are in season to put on top. Then I sprinkle raisins and nuts over the fruit. One day I decided to present something a little different and brought a bowl of fruit butter to the table. That small idea became a great idea, and received an instant thumbs up.
WINTER FRUIT BUTTER
Yield: about 2 1/2 cups
2 cups dried apple slices
18 pitted dates
12 pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups water, divided
- Combine the apples, dates, and prunes and 1 cup of the water in a 2-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and steam for 10 minutes.
- Transfer fruits to a food processor and add the remaining 1/2 cup water. Process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl and use immediately or chill and use later.
- When ready for gifting, spoon the fruit butter into two 8- to 10-ounce jars, cover, and tie them with bright holiday ribbons.
If you want sweeter fruit butter, add 2 or more dates to the processor.
If you prefer a softer fruit butter, add 1 or more tablespoons of water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. The fruit butter will thicken as it chills.
As I experimented with enhancements to the basic fruit butter recipe, I became aware that it really didn’t take more that just a few spices to heighten the flavor.
This thick, fruity butter with a subtle hint of exotic spices takes off where apple butter is left behind. With more depth of flavor and more robust volume than apple butter, this treat makes a thoughtful holiday gift prepared with loving hands and given from the heart. Spoon the fruit butter into attractive jars, tie them with bright ribbons, and they’re ready to make someone special very happy.
SPICED PLUM BUTTER
Yield: about 2 1/2 cups
20 pitted prunes (about 7 1/2 ounces)
20 pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
15 dried apricots or Turkish apricots (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 cups water
2 sticks cinnamon
2 star anise or 3 whole black peppercorns
2 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
- Combine the prunes, dates, apricots, water, and cinnamon sticks in a 2-quart saucepan. Wrap the star anise, allspice berries, and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth, tie it securely with string, and bury it in the bottom of the saucepan.
- Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 10 minutes.
- Remove the spices and cinnamon sticks and transfer the fruits and any remaining liquid to the food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Spoon the fruit butter into two 8- to 10-ounce jars and set aside to cool at room temperature. Cover the jars, label them, and chill. Refrigerated the plum butter will keep for up to 3 months.
- When the plum butter is ready for gifting, create a colorful wrapping with cloth or paper and tie with bright ribbons.
If you plan on making a double batch, you don’t need to double the spices. They will hold up well and still deliver great flavor.
If you have a spice bag, use it in place of the cheesecloth. Alternatively, put the spices into a tea ball and place it at the bottom of the saucepan.