Friday, May 9, 2014

May's Preserve Trifecta Part Three: Honey Lavender Apricot Butter

Okay, so we've gone over the Meyer Lemon Rosemary Marmalade and the Rosemary Rhubarb Jelly from the amazing cookbook Preserving by the Pint, so that means that it's time for the last one I promised you: Honey-Sweetened Apricot Lavender Butter!

My family goes nuts for the short apricot season, and every spring, when I see those first apricots hit the markets, I know that they're going to be tough and tart, not sweet and squishy like they should be, but I almost always end up buying them anyway.  Those fuzzy little flirts.  This recipe is fantastic because even if your apricots are less than perfect, they cook down into a nice fruit butter.  The sweetness of the honey and the floral notes of the lavender round it out nicely, making it a perfect early summer spread to enjoy on your back porch.

Of the recipes from this book, this is one of the easiest I've tried.  First you take about a pound and a half of apricots and pit and chop them.

Combine them in a bowl with 3/4 cup of honey.  Local honey is always better.  It's one of the few things I'm dead serious about in life.  I don't joke about local honey.

I don't often rave about kitchen tools on here, but I love my adjustable measuring scoop for honey and other thicker things I need to measure.  Peanut butter, sour cream, and so on.  If I do measure (yeah, I know, it's rare), this is a valuable tool to have around.  It's easy to clean too, and magnetic, so it can stick to my fridge and not get lost.  Important stuff!

Put 2 teaspoons of dried lavender buds (remember - food grade!) in some cheesecloth and tie it up in a neat little package of floral goodness.

Stick the lavender package into the honey-soaked apricots, and let it all sit for an hour.

Taste the mix and see if there's enough lavender taste for you.  For me, I like my lavender just short of tasting like soap, so I decided to leave it in, but if it's to your liking, pull out the lavender.

Get your canning stuff ready.  Like this.  3 half pint jars for this recipe, or six 4-ouncers, like I used.

Pour the honeyfruit into a wide, nonreactive pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.  Keep stirring and boil it for 15-20 minutes.

It should cook right down for you to a nice fruit butter.  When you run your utensil through the butter and it leaves a trail for a few seconds, it's at about the right consistency.

If you've left in the lavender, you can take it out once the butter is at the right thickness.

Ladle the butter into the prepared jars.  Process them in the water bath for 10 minutes.

The book notes that preserves made with honey don't last as long as those made with sugar, so once you open these, be sure you refrigerate them and finish them off within a week or two.  From my sampling of the good while making this, I'm pretty sure I won't have that problem. ;)

I can't tell you enough how much I'm enjoying this cookbook!  It's really worth having on your shelf to make the most of the delicious fresh harvests that come around each year.  If you're not sure, do what I do with new cookbooks and check it out from the library first, but I'm pretty sure once you see the gorgeous pictures and drool over the delicious recipes (I'm tellin' ya, plastic coated pages would be genius!), I'm sure you'll see what I mean!

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