Can’t get enough of ripe summer fruit? Preserve it for the rest of the year in a batch of fruit butter, jam or chutney. Try chutney, a spicy-sweet-sour condiment made with fresh and dried fruit, sugar, vinegar and chiles. Fruit butter and jam are similar; both are sweetened fruit spreads, but fruit butters are made by cooking down the fruit mixture until thick and sticky instead of adding pectin to set the mixture as you do with a jam. Whether you have a marathon picking session at your local berry farm or stop by a farmstand for a flat of cherries, spend a little time in your kitchen preserving the best of summer.
These recipes work with any fruit in any season. Give jars of peach chutney as a summer party favor or wrap up homemade apple butter for the winter holidays. Here are some fruits we love to make preserves with.
Jam: Strawberry, cherry, peach, blueberry, raspberry.
Chutney: Nectarine and dried cherry; blueberry and dried apricot; cherry and golden raisin.
Butter: Blueberry with lime juice and zest; plum with orange juice and zest.
Berries: Remove stems; hull strawberries. Measure whole.
Cherries: Remove stems and pits; halve. Measure halves.
Peaches, Nectarines & Plums: Peel if desired. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces; discard pits. Measure pieces.
Apples, Pears & other fruit: Peel if desired. Quarter, remove seeds and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Measure pieces.
To peel or not to peel your fruit is a personal choice. Some people like the texture it provides, others don't. We like the peels in chutneys and jams. But butters are supposed to be smooth, and well, buttery, so we prefer to peel stone fruit, such as apricots, nectarines, peaches, apples and pears. If you're making butter with "seedy" berries, such as blackberries, raspberries or even blueberries, you can puree the butter and pass it through a sieve for the smoothest result.
We tested Fresh Fruit Jam with “No sugar needed” pectin from Ball and Sure-Jell. We prefer this to regular pectin because you can adjust the amount of added sugar. Regular pectin cannot be used in its place because it requires more sugar to ensure a proper set. Although Sure-Jell’s instructions indicate that you cannot use less sugar than called for in their recipes, we had successful results using less (as indicated in our recipes).