Recently, I had a happy time demonstrating the art of making Strawberry Maple Butter at Freedom Farmers Market. More about that later. I truly love this Market – and the crowd is always interested in what I’m doing! I always offer tasting samples – gotta let them know how good home canning tastes! And give them some ideas along the way. So I sampled a Strawberry Mint Shrub and a Bumbleberry Butter along with the Strawberry Maple Butter. I’m be sharing my recipes for all three of these seasonal hits over the next few weeks.
Strawberry Maple Butter: I often choose to make fruit butters. These are “spreads” rather than jams. Difference? Well most jams use pectin to firm them and the texture is like any jelled product.
Spreads, on the other hand, are just that – a softened consistency like a puree. And because they don’t rely on added pectin, they don’t have the jelly-like consistency. I like butters more than jams (usually) for two reasons: one is that I prefer a puree-type consistency rather than the jelled. The second is because I like NOT adding pectin, which requires adding sugar and usually in large amounts. All fruits have their own natural pectins and sugars – enough to make a rather firm consistency without adding anything further, if cooking methods are understood.
The cooking directions for all the various fruit butters can get a bit crazy because each varies in pectin from high to low – but actually each in its own right is quite simple. You are cooking down over a longer period of time than a jam with added pectin would take. This relies on cooking off the water and concentrating the natural fruit sugars. I like this! Tastier than fruits that have a lot of added sugars and, of course, healthier!
Having said all this – are you still with me? — strawberries have the lowest amount of natural pectin. So it takes a bit of ingenuity to make a butter that will actually firm up and not be just a “syrup” (though that’s quite good too!). See my instructions below and, once done, you’ll understand how simple this is! And it truly tastes like fresh strawberries! Note: I’ve added the small amount of maple syrup, one of only two truly natural sugars, for its flavoring. You can omit if you choose.
I’ll be back at the Freedom Farmers Market again this summer – come taste all their seasonal goodness! And you’ll love the great variety of farmers and their offerings while you’re there!
Strawberry Maple Butter
makes about 4 half-pints
6 cups fresh Strawberries, just ripe but firm.
1/2 to 1 cup pure Maple Syrup (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspo0n freshly ground Nutmeg
Clean strawberries, removing caps and cutting large ones in half. Combine all ingredients in a straight-sided skillet or wide surface stockpot. Cook until strawberries release liquid and are softened but still holding some of their texture. This should be about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain pulp from liquid and add liquid back to skillet. Cook down until quite syrupy, which will probably be about 1/4 of the original amount. This is also the time to determine if the strawberry texture is to your liking. I prefer some texture, but if you wish a smoother butter, then puree with an immersion blender or food processor.
Add the strawberries back to this liquid and cook until just at the boiling point. Do not let this continue to cook as more strawberry juice will separate from the berries. Remove from heat and quickly spoon into hot Mason jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Bubble, wipe rims and cap. Place in boiling water bath that covers jars by at least 1 inch and process for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Test seals after 1 hour and place any unsealed jar(s) in refrigerator. Let the remainder cool for 12 hours. Label, date and place in a cool, dark place.
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