The fruits of autumn are truly my favorite. Pears and apples are wonderful for snacking raw, yet they can so easily be transformed into various delights, including my all time favorite, apple crisp. However, they really show their versatility in the form of “butters.” The traditional fruit butter has a creamy texture, hinting at jam in flavor, but more luxurious in texture. On another butter front, pureed fruit can make a wonderful fat substitute in baking. A rather handy tool for the dairy-free, vegan, or low fat foodie. In celebration of its multi-tasking capabilities, here are a few fruit “butter” tips and recipes…
Fruit as a Butter Substitute:
Peel and puree that apple or pear, or mash some cooked pumpkin (according to wikipedia, pumpkin is a fruit!) for a healthy butter substitute in baked goodies and quick breads. Here are a few tips to help maximize your results:
- Because the fruit will add more sweetness than butter, reduce the sugar in your recipes a touch.
- Think of the flavor of your recipe to judge which fruit flavor will work best. For example, prune puree works particularly well in chocolate desserts, such as brownies; and apples will add that festive fall flair to most quick breads.
- In general, use ½ cup of pureed fruit in place of one cup of butter. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of vegetable shortening or oil back into the recipe (in addition to the fruit puree) to achieve the best results.
- If you don’t have fresh fruit on hand, drained applesauce, strained baby food fruit, or a puree of water with any dried fruit (apples, apricots, peaches, etc.) will work in a pinch. Try a mixture of ½ cup applesauce and ½ cup vegetable oil as an excellent replacement for butter in cakes and quick breads.
- Of course, you could always get a little fancy with the following recipe:
Apple-Pear Puree – Butter Baking Substitute – Use 5 Tablespoons of this substitute plus 2 Tablespoons of oil for every ½ cup of butter in baked goods.
- 2 Medium Apples, cored, peeled, and cut into chunks
- 2 Medium Pears, cored, peeled, and cut into chunks
- 2/3 cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Lecithin Granules (available in most health food stores)
Put all ingredients in a saucepan bring to a simmer, cover, and cook 40 minutes, mashing occasionally. Press through a sieve to remove excess liquid (reserve and use for other recipes if desired). This recipe will last for several days in the refrigerator, and can be preserved in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Fruit butters can also be used in baking using the above rules. Just keep in mind that the often have a thicker, creamier texture and added sugars and spices that may affect the results. The wonderful recipe below comes from Hannah, the author of My Sweet Vegan and Bittersweet Blog. She does in fact incorporate this pumpkin butter into a recipe for Banana Pumpkin Spice Muffins:
- 15 oz Can of Pumpkin
- 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon All Spice
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
- Dash Nutmeg
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, mix together the pumpkin mush and maple syrup until they’re both fully combined. If you prefer your spread to be sweeter, don’t be shy and feel free to add in as much syrup as it takes to satisfy that sweet tooth. Have fun with it – It’s pretty hard to screw this recipe up.
Continue to stir the pumpkin slowly for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until the mixture had thickened to a desirable consistency. The stirring is important though, so DON’T walk away! If you do, your pumpkin may scorch and get burnt onto the bottom of the pan, and that wouldn’t be so tasty. The black bits really don’t look to attractive, either.
Anyway, once you’ve determined that it’s nice and thick, take your pan off the heat and you can go ahead and mix in all your spices. I also add in just a pinch of salt, because I believe that it helps to round out all the flavors and make them a bit brighter, but you don’t need to by all means. Enjoy!
See Hannah’s Post for details on storage.
Photo by Hannah Kaminsk, Bittersweet Blog