Concord Grape and Nectarine Butter

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19 Oct Concord Grape and Nectarine Butter

Grape-Butter

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?

Grape-Butter-Scone

Concord Grape and Nectarine Butter
Makes four 250 mL jars

Ingredients

  • 8  cups ripe nectarines, diced coarsely (no need to remove skins)
  • 4 cups concord grapes
  • 1/4 cup honey (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Put nectarines and grapes in a large pan. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes or until the fruit gets soft.
  2. Strain seeds through a food mill (or mash and press through a fine strainers).
  3. Sterilize  jars, lids and collars.
  4. Return remaining pulp to the pan. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring constantly, until reduced by half. This takes about 45 minutes.
  5. When fruit butter is done, add the honey and cook 15 more minutes.
  6. Pour fruit butter into sterilized jars, being sure to leave headspace. Remove any air bubbles with a wooden skewer.
  7. Wipe the rims before sealing according to manufacturer’s directions.
  8. Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes.

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No Comments
  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 11:49h, 19 October Reply

    I fully understand that obession! I too am a fruit butter convert this fall. On the weekend I made two pear butters – one with vanilla bean and the other with orange and ginger. It was a good thing I made bread!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:53h, 19 October Reply

      You made something with ginger? Please say I converted you?

      Glad to know I’m not the only one going gaga for this. Love the idea of the pear with ginger. My mom used to make pear & ginger jam but I love the idea of a butter instead. And vanilla? You know I’m there!

  • Cheryl
    Posted at 12:09h, 19 October Reply

    OK, this feels like a stupid question, but I’m a fruit butter novice. Why’ s the word “butter” in there when there’s no butter? And other than the need for extra stirring, how else — in ingredients or technique — does this differ from regular jam? Maybe just cause there’s no pectin?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:02h, 19 October Reply

      Great questions. It’s called “butter” because it’s thick and smooth, like butter — only it’s not as firm as real creamery butter. It’s more like a thick jam, but without the gelled quality. It won’t jiggle.

      Fruit butters differ from jams in that they use FAR less sugar (in some cases NO sugar at all), require no pectin and deliver a more intense flavour. Consider them a fruit reduction.

      I normally don’t go for commercial fruit butters but really like the results of my homemade versions. With the fruits I’ve tried so far, I’m liking the butters better than the jams. But others might disagree. I’m not sure if strawberry butter would work. Anyone know??

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 14:51h, 19 October Reply

    Oh, Charmian, you do make me laugh. And, yes, I’m laughing *with* you about the bangs! 😉

    As for the fruit butter, I’m glad Cheryl asked and that you’ve answered … I had no idea what the difference was between that and jam. Interesting! Here’s what I do know … your concord nectarine butter looks so good on that scone, I think I’m in love. It looks heavenly.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:52h, 19 October Reply

      Hey, don’t laugh. I actually DID singe my bangs — and eyebrows– off just a few week’s before my best friend’s wedding. My new summer BBQ rule: Don’t let the maid of honour anywhere near a gas grill until after she has performed her duties.

      Good thing I have a sister who’s a hair stylist.

      Anyway, glad to see you back and the computer.

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 14:54h, 19 October Reply

    Well, hair grows back but concord-nectarine butter doesn’t so I think you behaved perfectly naturally.

    You know I’m pretty hungry and tired right now. Is there any chance you can send me some of those biscuits and that yummy preserve pronto?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:53h, 19 October Reply

      Dana, I could send you some of the fruit butter, but scones don’t keep. Come on over and we’ll have tea, fresh-from-the-oven scones and some homemade preserves.

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 19:14h, 19 October Reply

    I remember fondly the lemon butter Mom used to make at Christmas. (I think that might have had butter in it too. ) Dibs on the concord grape special come Xmas morning 2009.
    Love,
    Robin

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:05h, 19 October Reply

      Mom’s lemon butter is made with egg yolks and lots of butter. It is a butter of yet another kind! Hardly fat-free like this version. But outstanding in its own right.

      I have only 3 jars of this grape butter left and if Dana comes over? Well, there’s no telling what will be in the cupboard come Christmas :-) Fingers crossed the Grape Lady will have an extra basket next week.

  • Sophie
    Posted at 04:32h, 20 October Reply

    What an excellent looking butter & the scones look divine too!

  • oneshotbeyond
    Posted at 19:20h, 20 October Reply

    those are my favorite grapes ever. This must be delicious!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:37h, 21 October Reply

      Funny, but I never appreciated Concord grapes until recently. I don’t like eating them on their own, but cooked? They’re amazing. Glad to see I’m not the only one obsessed with this fruit.

  • Natalie
    Posted at 15:23h, 19 December Reply

    Hi,

    This is probably a silly question, but I’m trying to make this but with orange and ginger as someone mentioned above but I was a bit confused on the recipe: so we just drop the fruit into the pot (no butter/oil/etc) and simmer it? They won’t burn or they don’t need to be smashed up first? I know this is probably a silly question but first time with this type of thing and wanted to do it for the holidays.

    Thanks, looks delicious!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 17:50h, 19 December Reply

      @Natalie, it’s not a silly question. If you’ve never made preserves before a fruit butter will seem strange. It’s only called butter because you spread it like butter. It contains no fat.

      Just chop up the nectarines (remove the pit) and pull the grapes from the stems before cooking. No butter. No oil. Just the fruit. The fruit will fall apart as it cooks. Any lumps will be gone when you push the mixture through the sieve or food mill to remove the seeds.

      The fruit won’t burn because you’ll be stirring it constantly while it reduces.

      Hope this answers your questions. Thanks so much for asking them since I’m sure others wondered, too.

      Good luck with your grape and nectarine butter!

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