Saturday, 14 July 2012

Cherry Butter

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..."

So I wanted to tell you about my new found love for fruit butter. I realised though, that really the name makes no sense at all and you might be expecting something completely different from what I'm about to tell you about. Shakespeare might be right, the end product would still be the same, but for me half the excitement about a new recipe is in the anticipation of just how amazing it might be.... and believe me, this is amazing.

What is fruit butter? The best way to describe it is to say that it has the smoothness of a fruit puree, the thickness of a jam and the punch of the purest fruit flavour you will ever enjoy. That's a promise.

So why's it called fruit butter? I honestly don't know the real reason, but to me it makes sense because it is so unbelievably versatile (like butter), it's spreadable (like butter) and it has quickly become an essential ingredient that I can't live without (like butter).

I already mentioned one way to use fruit butter in my last post, where I used peach butter as a glaze for gammon (this cherry butter would work particularly well with duck)- but really that's just the beginning of the endless possibilities! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin:

- As a glaze for meat
- On top of or mixed into yoghurt 
- On toast
- With pate
- On ice-cream
- On porridge
- On scones (with cream, of course)
- As the base for cocktails
- For danish pastries
- In a cheesecake
- As a sweet dip
- As a cake filling
- As the base for a variety of condiments (I'll tell you soon how to use cherry butter to make an amazing barbecue sauce or a variation of chinese plum sauce)

Get the idea? Intrigued? Good :) It really is so simple...

Cherry Butter
1.8kg/ 4lbs cherries, de-stemmed and pitted
1 cup water
2 cups sugar (jam sugar preferably)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tblspns vanilla extract (you don't really taste this, it just rounds out the flavour)
1) Have a whole lot of fun de-stemming and pitting your mountain of cherries- I don't own a cherry pitter, so I actually just used the stem end of a beater from an electric whisk to push them out! You may want to wear gloves for this, and clothes that you don't mind staining...

2) Put all the cherries in a biiiiig pot with the water over a medium heat, bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes until the cherries have softened.

3) Using a stick/ immersion blender (ideally, it's a bit messy to transfer to a food processor) blend the cherries until smooth.

4) Transfer to a slow cooker and stir in the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Prop the lid of your slow cooker open, either on a slant or using something like wooden skewers laid across the pot to raise it up. I know this goes against normal slow cooking etiquette, but the aim is to reduce the mixture down and thicken it considerably so we need the evaporation!

5) Set your slow cooker on low and leave it on over night. Check back on it occassionally and give it a wee stir now and again, but don't worry about it as the low temperature means it won't burn (you'll get some sticky bits round the edge but these are super yummy and should just be stirred in towards the end). I think I left mine on for about 12 hours in total.

6) Once it reaches a jam like consistency, you're done! Decant into jars and enjoy!
This made 1.5 litres (about 6 cups-ish.... sorry Americans) of yummyness for me :)

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