We stopped buying jelly last fall when I realized many store-bought jellies contained high fructose corn syrup, in addition to a few other ingredients that don’t really add much (if any) nutritional value to the jelly.
Instead, we’re making homemade fruit butter. The method couldn’t be simpler and it’s really a very forgiving process. No culinary skills are required and you don’t even have to be home for much of it! It’s ideal for those who:
a) want to eat better food,
b) want to save a few bucks, and
c) don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.
Is there anyone who this doesn’t apply to?
How to Make Homemade Fruit Butter
- Wash all your produce with a natural produce wash.
- Remove stems and seeds from fruit, if necessary.
- Put the whole fruit with the skin on into a slow cooker (I use this one). Cover with the lid and turn on high for 4-6 hours, but no longer than 8 hours.
- Reduce heat to low for 8-12 hours.
- Puree fruit using an immersion blender (I have this one), or in batches with a blender (I use this one). Be careful since the fruit will be very hot.
- With the pureed fruit in the slow cooker, prop at least one side of the lid open with a knife or chopstick or similar item. This allows the water inside to evaporate, thickening the fruit butter.
- Cook on low for 2-6 hours, until fruit butter is desired thickness.
- Store fruit in glass jars in the freezer, refrigerator or can using these basic steps.
Additional Recipe Notes
There is great flexibility with the timing of this recipe.
- Cooking the butter on high for an extra hour or two does not affect the butter, other than it will likely be darker and a more concentrated flavor.
- I have made butters cooking on low first, then high, and the results are the same.
- Propping both ends open will speed up the evaporation process, but only do this if you are home. This ensures your butter doesn’t cook down too much, too fast.
- The skin of the fruit naturally contain pectin, which helps to “gel” the fruit butter. Shop according to the dirty dozen and clean fifteen, and aim buy organic produce to reduce pesticides if you plan to use the skin.
Sometimes I wonder if our homemade efforts really do save money. When you’re given more produce than you know what to do with, the out of pocket expense is obviously low. But what about the times you don’t have an abundance of strawberries? Is it still worth the money and effort?
Absolutely yes! Here’s a cost breakdown for the average fruit butter:
- 6lbs of non-organic pears (or any other fruit purchased according to the full EWG list) at $1/lb.
- Cooked down, this will make approximately 3 pints of fruit butter. With no other added ingredients – flavors or sweeteners – this equals $2 per 16oz..
- Compare to this pear butter priced at $5 per 14oz.
Sure you can probably buy less expensive jelly at the store, but the chances of it NOT containing additives or unnecessary sugar are slim.
Here are a few tips to reduce the cost even more:
- Save on organic fruit by asking local markets for jam berries or “seconds.” These fruits are usually slightly bruised or damaged, but they’re just as nutritious as the pretty ones. Since you’re going to cook them and puree them anyway, there’s no need for them to be pretty! (Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Shopping the Farmer’s Market on a Budget.)
- Make fruit butters from fruit NOT listed on the dirty dozen: cherries, pears, domestic nectarines, plums, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, bananas, honeydew, cantaloupe, papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos and pineapple are all available options.
- Avoid making fruit butters requiring all organic produce. Apples, grapes, imported nectarines, peaches, and strawberries are all listed on the 2013 dirty dozen. While these fruits make amazing butters, cut them with produce that isn’t on the dirty dozen list.
- Buy fruit seasonally and aim to pay no more than $1/lb. If you can find fruit for less and your budget allows, buy more! Seasonal eating has more benefits than just price, too!
Ready to make your own butters? Here are a few winning combinations:
- Spiced Peach Blackberry: 6lbs peaches + 1 pint of blackberry + 3 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves. Cook down peaches only; add blackberries and spices when pureeing fruit and cook down.
- Peach Blueberry: 6lbs peaches + 1 pint of blueberries. Cook down peaches only; add blackberries when pureeing fruit and cook down.
- Maple Vanilla Apple Pear: 3lbs apples + 3lbs pears + 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 Tbsp vanilla extract. Cook down apples and pears; add maple syrup and vanilla when pureeing and cook down.
- My original Strawberry Apple Butter
- Raw Mango Butter from Just Making Noise
- Spiced Peach Butter and Strawberry Chia Jam from Stacy Makes Cents