Butter Them Up!

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Fruit butters spread a harvest of fresh flavor year-round

Ready, set, grow! Tennessee’s fruit season gets rolling in May with strawberries, progresses to peaches and other berries and doesn’t end until apples and pears in the fall. Be ready for each season’s overabundance with these fruit butter recipes, perfect for everything from plums to persimmons. Find each of Tennessee’s fruits at its freshest by going straight to a local farm or farmers market.


Pear Butter

Yield: 4 pints

  • 20 pears, cored, peeled and sliced
  • ½ plus ⅓ cup orange juice, divided
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the pears and ½ cup of the orange juice in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until the pears are soft. Puree with an immersion blender or food mill. Add the sugar, and stir until it completely dissolves. Add the remaining orange juice, along with the zest and nutmeg. Cook an additional 20 minutes on medium-low heat to thicken.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath canner. Ladle the butter into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove to a wire rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours before storing.


Plum Butter

Yield: 5 pints

  • 4½ pounds plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 3¾ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place the plums and juice in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until the skins separate from the fruit. Press through a food mill or sieve, and return to a saucepan. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes or until the mixture is thick.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath canner. Ladle the butter into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps.

Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove to a wire rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours before storing.


Peach Butter

Yield: 4 pints

  • 17 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced*
  • ½ cup peach nectar
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place the peaches and nectar in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until the peaches are soft. Puree with an immersion blender. Add the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, stirring well. Cook 15-20 minutes until thick, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath canner. Ladle the butter into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove to a wire rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours before storing.

* Apricot alternative: To make Apricot Butter, follow the same recipe but use 22-24 apricots and reduce the sugar to 2 cups. Omit the ground cinnamon.


Sweet Apple Butter

Yield: 4 pints

  • 22 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the apples and cider in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes or until the apples are soft. Puree with an immersion blender, and add the sugar, cinna-mon, cloves and nutmeg. Stir well, and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until thick, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath canner. Ladle the butter into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove to a wire rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours before storing.


Blackberry Butter

Yield: 2 half pints

  • 6 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place the blackberries and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree with an immersion blender, and pass through a sieve to remove any seeds. Return to the saucepan, and add the sugar and zest. Cover and let stand 2 hours. Place over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath canner. Ladle the butter into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove to a wire rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours before storing.


Strawberry Butter

Yield: 3 half pints

  • 2 quarts strawberries, capped and crushed
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place the strawberries and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree with an immersion blender, and pass through a sieve, if desired, to remove any seeds. Return to the saucepan, and add the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and let stand 2 hours.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and cook 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a water bath canner. Ladle the butter into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove to a wire rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours before storing.

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About Author

Robin Conover

Robin Conover has spent the last 23 years documenting the people and places of Tennessee with The Tennessee Magazine. After graduating from Murray State University, Robin began working for magazine in October 1988 as a communications specialist and photojournalist. She now serves as TECA vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. Her interest in preserving the environment and Tennessee’s beautiful natural areas has led her down many miles of trails to capture thousands of images. Robin is currently a board member of the Friends of Radnor Lake, a nonprofit in Nashville. Robin’s images can be seen in greeting cards, calendars, books and at a few fine-art shows she participates in each year.

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