Well, this is embarrassing. I nearly singed my bangs off.
How? Licking a big drip of Concord grape puree off the stove knob just inches from the boiling pot. How else?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone do that? Well, first of all, I had just scoured the stove top, so it was clean. And second, my hands were full, otherwise I’d have used my finger. And third… that’s not the weirdest thing anyone’s done for a mouthful of Concord grapey-goodness.
As proof, I offer up a passage from The Flavor Bible (Little Brown and Company, 2008). In a pull quote, Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges Restaurant in New York says, “I was upstate in my cabin when the first Concord grapes came into season. I wanted sorbet so badly that I cut one of my T-shirts in half to use as a strainer, and then used my broom handle with the shirt to squeeze every last bit of juice from the grapes.”
At least I didn’t shred my clothes for this.
Anyway, my hair survived and I managed to make a lovely, very intense fruit butter with little more than very ripe fruit and a prayer. I had planned to make a Concord Grape Pie, but I got to market too late. Grape Lady (who is also my Peach Pusher) said they sold out early. While she promised to save me a basket next week, the few grapes I had left over from Thanksgiving were threatening to turn into wine if I didn’t intervene.
Since fruit butters are designed to use up over-ripe fruit, I turned on the stove and … the rest you know.
After tasting this I have decided that I like fruit butter better than jam, despite the fact I have to stand at the stove stirring for an hour. The results are less sweet than jam, more intense and completely worth the effort.
Not bad for a woman who hadn’t made preserves in two decades.
Do you make fruit butters? If so, what do you eat them on?
Concord Grape and Nectarine Butter
Makes four 250 mL jars
- 8 cups ripe nectarines, diced coarsely (no need to remove skins)
- 4 cups concord grapes
- 1/4 cup honey (or to taste)
- Put nectarines and grapes in a large pan. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until the fruit gets soft.
- Strain seeds through a food mill (or mash and press through a fine strainers).
- Sterilize jars, lids and collars.
- Return remaining pulp to the pan. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring constantly, until reduced by half. This takes about 45 minutes.
- When fruit butter is done, add the honey and cook 15 more minutes.
- Pour fruit butter into sterilized jars, being sure to leave headspace. Remove any air bubbles with a wooden skewer.
- Wipe the rims before sealing according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes.