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Fruit butters are made by cooking fruits until they become a paste. Fruit butters have lower sugar content than jam and thicken without the need for pectin. Fruit cheeses are basically butters that have been cooked further until they are of a more solid consistency and can be sliced.

Fruit butters and cheeses can be frozen but is more commonly to jar them up just like jams. They will keep for few months but should e refrigerated after opening. Many improve in flavor if left for few weeks before eating. Most common fruits used for butters or cheeses are: apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, grapes and blackcurrants. You can also add spices to them if you like. You can use cinnamon, ginger or allspices. Some fruits will need a little water, juice or cider added whilst cooking.

Fruit butter and cheeses

The basic method for making fruit butters or cheeses is simple. Cut the fruits into small pieces and place in a thick-bottomed pan with up to half as much liquid if needed then bring to the boil, simmering until the fruits are soft. Push through a sieve and then puree in a food processor. Put the pulp back in the pan and cook slowly stirring all the time until the mixture is thick. Add half as much sugar as fruits and any spices you want then boil until thick and creamy and no liquid is left in the pan. Pour into sterilized jars and top with lids.

For fruit chesses add a larger amount of sugar, up to the same amount as fruit pulp and boil the mixture for longer until it is stiff. Put the cheeses in sterilized jars but make sure to choose wide-topped jars so you can remove the cheeses easily on to a plate when needed.

Butters can be eaten spread on toast, with pancakes or as ice-cream topping and cheeses can be eaten with bread.

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Pickles and Chutneys

There is a difference between pickles and chutneys. Pickles are pieces of vegetables or fruit stored in vinegar. Chutneys are mixtures of chopped vegetables and fruits cooked in vinegar. In both cases it is the acid conditions produced by the vinegar which inhibit the actions of spoiling micro-organisms.

Most pickles and chutneys improve their flavor if left to mature for a few months, and will keep for several years if unopened. If you open a jar of pickles or chutney keep it in the fridge after you open it.

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