How to Make Fruit Jams, Butters and Chutneys

By: Carolyn Malcoun, EatingWell Senior Food Editor

Freeze or can ripe summer fruit for the best of the season all year long.

fresh fruit jam

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. Think of these recipes as basic guidelines that leave you plenty of room to experiment. Just prepare the fruit as directed and let your imagination run wild.

Try chutney, a spicy-sweet-sour condiment made with fresh and dried fruit, sugar, vinegar and chiles. Serve it alongside simple roasted meat or pan-seared tofu steaks.

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. Both are delicious spread on whole-grain toast or stirred into plain yogurt.

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. 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.

Related: Jam & Jelly Recipes

Step 1. Pick Your Fruit & Flavorings

fresh fruit jam

Pictured Recipe: Fresh Fruit Jam

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
  •  

Step 2. Prep & Measure

fresh fruit butter

Pictured Recipe: Fresh Fruit Butter

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.

Step 3. Get the Right Texture

fresh fruit chutney

Pictured Recipe: Fresh Fruit Chutney

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.

Recipes to Try:

About Pectin

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).

Do You Need to Sterilize Your Jars?

You can safely store fruit butter, jam and chutney in your refrigerator or freezer. But processing them in a boiling water bath ensures safe storage at room temperature for up to a year. See step-by-step pictures and instructions here.

Watch: How to Pickle Anything

More Preserving Ideas