How to Make Stone Fruit Jams & Butters

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Stone Fruit Jams ButtersIf you love summer stone fruit—peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums—then you’ll love preserving some of it as jams and butters to eat when summer is long gone. Early summer is a perfect time to plan for making preserves and saving these wonderful flavors. Even if you aren’t an experienced cook or canner, this recipe is straightforward and easy, even for beginners.

There are three basic steps:

  1. Gather your ingredients and equipment, and sterilize your jars.
  2. Prepare your fruit jam or butter recipe.
  3. Fill your jars, and proceed with water bath canning (preserves them for up to 18 months).

The Difference Between Fruit Jams and Butters
The difference between a fruit jam and a fruit butter is that jams traditionally include chopped fruit and sugar that is cooked for less time and have pectin added to help thicken and hold flavor; butters are cooked longer and have a creamier texture. Some cooks prefer to use pectin in butters made of more delicate fruits, such as berries and peaches, since the longer cooking time required without pectin can steal some of the flavor. Pectin is a natural ingredient found in fruits to varying degrees. For real purists, you can even make your own liquid pectin.

My personal favorite is apricot butter. The flavor is phenomenal. I wait each year for California’s apricot crop to appear—using Royal Blenheim apricots—then set aside a day or evening to make a batch.

[Need step-by-step canning guide? Read Care to Can?]

My stepmother, Linda Corso, an experienced chef and recipe writer, gave me the following recipe for making the perfect stone fruit jam or butter. Like me, she prefers to add less sugar than traditional recipes, allowing the true flavor of the fruit to shine through. The amount of sugar needed will vary according to your personal taste and the natural sweetness of the fruit you’re using. If you want to do a quick test to see how much sugar you should use, crush ½ cup of fruit and add 1 tablespoon of sugar; stir and set aside for 15 minutes and then taste. If it’s sweet enough, you’ll need ¼ cup of sugar for each cup of fruit. If it’s not sweet enough, add another tablespoon, stir, let sit, then taste again. Each tablespoon required to achieve the desired sweetness equals an additional ¼ cup of sugar per cup of fruit.

Stone Fruit Jams Butters

Tools you need to can jam
Besides your recipe ingredients, you’ll also need basic canning tools: jam jars with new lids and rings; a large, wide pot, large roasting pan, or water bath canner; a wide-mouth funnel for filling the jars; and tongs to remove them. Ball (the company famous for its mason jars) has an easy-to-follow primer on the process of water bath canning that’s a perfect guide for first timers. Before you begin, sterilize your jars by washing them in the dishwasher or by hand and then immersing them in boiling water for 5 minutes.

[If you enjoy this home canning project, check out how to can your own tomato sauce!]

Preparing your fruit
Your fruit should be ripe, but not overripe. Wash it well in cold water. Cut off any hard blemishes. Though not necessary, some people prefer to remove the skins of fuzzier fruit, such as peaches and certain apricot varieties, while smooth-skinned fruits, like plums and nectarines, don’t require peeling. To peel, use a serrated vegetable peeler, or you can place the fruit in boiling water for one minute, set it aside to cool, and the peel will slip off easily. Remove pits and cut each piece of fruit into 1-inch pieces.

[Looking for more canning fun? Here’s How to Can Perfect Pears]

Stone Fruit Butter
INGREDIENTS
4 cups of chopped apricots, plums, nectarines, or peaches
2 teaspoons lemon juice (this helps the jam set and retains the fresh color)
1½ cups sugar (more or less to taste)

Directions:

  • Mix together the chopped fruit, lemon juice, and sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  • Reduce heat to low, and simmer until the butter is very thick, stirring frequently. This will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how juicy your fruit is. To test if it’s done, place about ½ teaspoon on a small plate, and put it in the freezer for two minutes. When it holds its shape without running when tilted, it’s done.
  • While the fruit is cooking, bring your water bath canner or large pot filled with enough water to cover the jars to a gentle boil and drop the lids and rings inside. (Review the easy-to-follow primer on water bath canning.)
  • Remove fruit from heat. Using tongs, dip your jars into boiling water, and then fill them with fruit butter, using a ladle and wide-mouth funnel.
  • With a clean dish towel or paper towel, carefully wipe the jar rim to remove any fruit butter, or the jars won’t seal properly.
  • Using tongs or a lid lifter, remove the lids from the hot water, and place them on the jars. Add the rings, and tighten them until the jars are securely closed.
  • Submerge the closed jars in the gently-simmering water for about 10 minutes, and then remove carefully with the tongs. Place them on a cooling rack, cutting board, or towels.
  • Set aside to cool for several hours. You’ll hear a pop, and the center of the lids will go flat when they are set. Store for 12–18 months in a cool, dark storage area.
  • If you don’t hear a pop, or if there is still play in the lid after they have cooled, then the jar is not sealed--use within a week and store in the refrigerator.  

Stone Fruit Jams ButtersStone Fruit Jam
INGREDIENTS:
4 cups of chopped apricots, plums, nectarines, or peaches
2 teaspoons lemon juice (this helps the jam set and retains the fresh color)
2 teaspoons calcium water (if using Pomona Pectin, it comes in the package)
1½ cups sugar (more or less to taste)
Pectin per package instructions

Directions (these assume powdered pectin. If using liquid pectin, add it according to package directions):

  • Mix together the fruit and lemon juice (and calcium water, if using Pomona Pectin), and bring the mixture to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  • While the fruit is cooking, bring your water bath canner or large pot filled with enough water to cover the jars, water to a gentle boil and drop the lids and rings inside. (Review the easy-to-follow primer on water bath canning.)
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and pectin.
  • When the fruit is at a full rolling boil, gradually stir in sugar/pectin mixture, stirring briskly until it dissolves. Continue cooking for one minute.
  • Remove fruit from heat. Using tongs, dip jars into boiling water, and then fill them with jam using a ladle and wide-mouth funnel.
  • With a clean dish towel or paper towel, carefully wipe the jar rim to remove any jam, or the jars won’t seal properly.
  • Using tongs or a lid lifter, remove the lids from the hot water, and place them on the jars. Add the rings and tighten them until the jars are securely closed.
  • Submerge the closed jars in the gently-simmering water for about 10 minutes, and then remove carefully with the tongs. Place them on a cooling rack, cutting board, or towels.
  • Set aside to cool for several hours. You’ll hear a pop, and the center of the lids will go flat when they are set. Store for 12-18 months in a cool, dark storage area.
  • If you don’t hear a pop, or if there is still play in the lid after they have cooled, then the jar is not sealed—use within a week and store in the refrigerator.

Pia Hinckle is publisher at The FruitGuys.

 

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