I grew up eating homemade jam. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents made jam, my grandpa was actually a bit of a gourmet jam maker toward the end of his days, and we frequently had several jars in various stages of consumption in our fridge at any one time.
I always ate it, enjoyed it, accepted jars of it when my grandma offered them, but never really thought about it. That is, until I had a little one that I was making sandwiches for . . . the jams in the store were full of sugar or worse, high fructose corn syrup, and those that were mostly fruit, were highly expensive.
Last year I began my first foray into jam making to be able to both keep high quality, fruit-heavy jams in my pantry without breaking the budget, as well as being able to control the sugar content. . . first experiments included one of our favorites, honey-sweetened strawberry freezer jam, while my favorite cooked strawberry jam has changed this season to this amazing Strawberry-Rhubarb Vanilla Fruit Butter featured on Food in Jars.
After I made that strawberry butter, I was hooked. No longer did I have to remember to buy pectin (it somehow felt weird to me to eschew most processed foods, but then seek out little boxes of white powder to preserve fruit for my family. I know that pectin is made from fruit, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with it any more, plus one less thing to remember to purchase is always a good thing in my book!), and the low, slow cooking concentrated the flavor of the fruit and required little sugar. It was a match made in heaven. When I came across some amazing (almost – pretty darn close) local peaches recently at a good price I couldn’t resist . . . I bought several pounds. With fruit butter combinations in my mind from the get-go.
What is a fruit butter? According to one of my favorite canning bloggers, Food in Jars,
“A fruit butter is named as such because it mimics the smooth spreadability of softened butter. It is cooked low and slow for a number of hours, in order to evaporate the excess liquid, concentrate the fruit flavors and intensify the innate sweetness in the fruit. Thanks to this concentration, it typically contains a minimal amount of additional sweetener.”
Sounds perfect, right?
I remember one of my grandpa’s last season of jam making he began experimenting with peach pineapple combinations. I wanted to honor him by adding one of my favorite flavors with peach, ginger, and a favorite was made with this recipe.
I can’t wait to enjoy a smear of this this winter on a toasted sourdough english muffin . . . yum.
Ginger Peach Pineapple Fruit Butter
makes about 8 half-pints
- 8 heaping cups of washed, chopped peaches (skins left on)
- 1 20-oz can crushed pineapple in natural juice (no sugar added – my can had 2 ingredients; crushed pineapple and fresh pineapple juice)
- 1/4 Cup water
- 2-inch chunk of peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cup of organic whole cane sugar (Rapadura or Sucanat)
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- few dashes of allspice
Combine peaches, pineapple and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until fruit starts to break apart, about 20-30 minutes. Then, process with a hand blender until pureed.
Allow to cook over very low heat for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally (next time I’m going to try using the slow cooker method) until thick and smooth. About half an hour before canning, blend again with the hand processor, then add fresh ginger, grated finely with a microplane, whole cane sugar, allspice and lemon juice. Cook for half an hour more then pour into jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow to cool on a towel-lined counter before checking the seal.
Note: I used canned pineapple in this recipe, (I somehow confused the inability of fresh pineapple to gel in gelatin with soupy jams and pectin, but have since read several canning recipes using fresh pineapple (the heat nullifies the acid that causes it to upset those church gelatin desserts) and will be trying it with fresh next time!) – make sure to buy the no sugar added variety! Also, peaches are frequently on the list of the “dirty dozen” ,so if you can find and afford organically grown peaches, use them and, whatever peaches you use, wash well!
This post is written in conjunction with SummerFest, Two for Tuesday’s Blog Hop, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday and Foodie Friday AND . . . the Nourishing Jams, Jellies, Preserves & More 2010 BlogHop.