strawberry and rhubarb buttter

Preserving Spring: Strawberry Rhubarb Butter

A few years ago, I decided to spend a summer focused on preserving fruit butters instead of my beloved jams.

I went the butter route because I realized that while I loved the act of making jam, I needed my canning habit to involve less sugar and have smaller yields.

weighing rhubarb-1

Fruit butters are made from whole pureed fruit that is cooked down slowly over low heat, until the water is dissolved and the natural sugars are concentrated and delicious. You end up with a fairly small amount of spreadable, flavorful product that needs very little in the way of additional sugar.

blending strawberries

Since pledging to make more fruit butters, I’ve developed a personal calendar of favorite butters.

In late June, I make apricot butter. During blueberry season, I cook down pounds of berries into a low sugar spread. And in late summer, when the freestone peaches arrive, I oven-roast them until thick and sweet.

initial cooking

However, the true start to my butter season comes in mid-May, with the tandem arrival of strawberries and rhubarb. An established duo for pie, these two ingredients make a divine butter.

It’s good for spreading on toast, for dolloping into bowls of oatmeal, or as a fruit-on-the-bottom in a cup of plain yogurt.

splatter guard

I like to make it in fairly small batches to keep it manageable and affordable (if you don’t have a patch in your backyard, rhubarb can get spendy). I also have a little trick to share that makes quick work of the strawberries and ensures that you don’t have to dirty your blender more than once.

cooked butter

I start the prep for this butter by cleaning and hulling the strawberries. As I work, I drop the whole berries into the blender container. Once they’re all in there, I puree them until smooth.

Then I pour the berry pulp into a saucepan or Dutch oven, add the chopped rhubarb and 1 cup of sugar and bring it to a simmer.

finished butter

It will look ridiculous at first, with the chunks of rhubarb bobbing in the strawberry puree. However, the heat and the act of stirring will result in the rhubarb melting into the berries. The finished product will benefit texturally because the fibers in the rhubarb will still be intact.

The end result is a thicker, more spreadable butter in less cooking time (and with no noticeably fibrous rhubarb).

Strawberry Rhubarb Butter
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Recipe type: Canning
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds strawberries, pureed
  • 2 pounds rhubarb, sliced
  • 1 to 2 cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Combine the pureed strawberries, sliced rhubarb and 1 cup sugar in a large, non-reactive pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low.
  2. Stirring regularly, cook the fruit at a low simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, until it no longer looks watery and it sits up high in the bowl of a spoon. If the butter is making a splashy mess, use a splatter shield to control the mess.
  3. When the butter has reduced to about half its original volume, taste it. If desired, add additional sugar (I rarely add it to mine, but I do like my preserves to be a little tart).
  4. If any whole pieces of rhubarb remain, press them into the butter using the back of your spoon.
  5. Once butter has finished cooking, remove the pan from the heat. Funnel butter into prepared half pint jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes (because this is a thick product, I like to process it longer than I do jams and jellies).
  6. When time is up, remove jars from canner and place on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
  7. Once jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals by grasping the edges of the lid and lifting the jar an inch or so off the countertop.
  8. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly. Sealed jars should be stored in a cool, dark place and used within one year.
Notes
Makes 4 to 5 half pints

 
What’s your favorite way to preserve early spring?

About Marisa

Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated small batch canner who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first book, titled Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.

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Comments

  1. This is so a cool idea, I had never heard of it before! I can not wait to give it a try!
    Tieghan’s last post: Brie Crab Cake Pretzel Slider Melts with Strawberry Pineapple Salsa

  2. Funny, we have always called this ice cream topping. We have made it for years and never used as a spread. We just put a dollop on ice cream!!!
    karen’s last post: Must Have and Mostly Free Calendars for the Non Creative Mom like Me!

  3. Kara E. says:

    I know it’s generally against the rules to change canning recipes, but can this be halved? I got some ruhbarb in my CSA yesterday, but only a pound and I know I’ve never seen more at my grocery store. I would really like to make this butter. It sounds delicious!

    • Yes, this recipe can be cut in half. The prohibition against changing canning recipes mostly means that you shouldn’t add or subtract anything without understanding how it will effect the acidity of the finished product. However, when you cut a recipe in half and keep the ingredients in the same proportions, there is no problem.
      Marisa’s last post: Giveaway: Ball Dry Herb Jars

  4. Marisa, thanks for this recipe – we’ve just been slurping up rhubarb on toast. However, now I’m encouraged to cook it down a little more for your recipe.

    Would it be safe to can if I did just rhubarb? Or put a little orange in? My strawberry crop is low this year and I suspect it will end up being demolished with a few rounds of cereal.
    Sarah @ Fit Family Together’s last post: The Best Gardening Books To Help Your Family Get Gardening

  5. What about a slow cooker for it? That’s usually how I make my apple butter.

  6. Really cool!

  7. Sounds delicious! Strawberry rhubarb jam is one of my favorites, so I just know I would love this!
    Tracy’s last post: Homemade Hamburger Buns

  8. Barbera Cowing says:

    Looks delicious, gonna try it next week, thanks :)
    Barbera Cowing’s last post: bransoletki

  9. Love the idea of fruit butters rather than jams or jellies. I always cringe when I have to add all of that sugar! This is a great alternative, and it sounds super-yummy, too! :)

  10. Can you add lemon zest and juice of a lemon? Or, is the acidity in the butter already sufficient for canning. Can I seal by turning the jar upside down after filling? Thx.

  11. Can you sub honey for the sugar? I was going to make jam in the morning but would love to give this a try. I usually use honey in my jams. Thanks!

  12. Sitting here in winter in Australia and dreaming of some fresh spring strawberries. Would it work with frozen strawberries?

  13. I am a huge fruit butter fan! I could eat jars of apple butter in no time. I am definitely going to try this!!
    Meg @ Sweet Twist’s last post: Google + Blog Hop

  14. This sounds heavenly–an easy way to get the strawberry rhubarb flavor I like but the rest of the family is less certain about. I’ll keep my eyes open at the farmer’s market if I don’t get any in my CSA farm share, and I’ve already got the dog protecting the ripening strawberries from marauding chipmunks.
    Thanks Marissa!
    Kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts’s last post: Chicken Adobo Summer Rolls (A repurposed leftover)

  15. Oh wow, this looks delicious :) I have to try this!

  16. Do you know about how many cups of strawberries and rhubarb make 2 lbs? I don’t have a scale to measure mine from my garden? Thanks!

  17. Angenette says:

    Just made this with frozen berries and rhubarb that I picked in June. Delicious, but what knocked it out of the park was the addition of 1/2 tsp sea salt. It gave it balance. I won’t be canning, but will be eating most fresh or freezing. Thanks!

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