The Final Product - Foraging - Preserves - Bushcraft - Pippin & Gile

Crab Apple & Blackberry Butter


I made this on a recent weekend in the woods for The Wilderness Bushcraft Society, and it went down a treat, just like it has always done in my kitchen at home.

If you just want the recipe and not the background information click here

Firstly: What is a fruit butter?

A fruit butter so called because it spreads like butter, looses all links to dairy butters at this point. Its a soft set mix of fruit puree and sugar, that goes wonderfully with a whole mix of options, on toast, stirred into greek yogurt, with roasted venison and with BBQ duck breast. Some sources say they are more prevalent in the United States, and the British have tended to stick to fruit cheeses – like the butter no relation to dairy cheese, but a fruit puree mix that sets and can be cut like a cheese.

Why not just make a jam?

Jams require whole or chopped fruits, cooked and mixed with sugar. They also require boiling to a setting point 104 deg centigrade, otherwise you end up with something that looks like a compote. This is all well and dandy with cultivated varieties of fruit, but with wild varieties with more pips and smaller stone to fruit ratios this can be a problem. The jam is either full of pips and you spend the rest of the day trying to extract that elderberry pip from between your teeth, or you spend hours in preparation work removing the stones from the fruit, as in sloes or damsons. This is where butters come into their own. You cook the fruit whole, mush it though a sieve to extract the pulp, then add sugar, boil gently, there is no need to get to a setting point either, and jar. Hey Presto, a lovely conserve without hours of faff or the need for a tooth pick. 🙂

How long will it last?

Fruit Butters use a lower ratio of sugar to fruit than jams, or cheeses so they keep for less long. We recommend keeping them for a maximum of 3-6 months, I rarely have a problem with this, and sometimes find if I’ve only made a small batch it can be gone much faster than this.

How to make the Bramble and Crab Apple Butter

2kg of Crab apples – Washed and cut though
1kg of Blackberries – Washed
2 Lemons – Rind and Juice.
Sugar approx 1.5kg

Less usual Tools:
Jam Jars or silicone moulds.
– Makes about 6 large jars, or 3kg of fruit butter.
Jam Funnel
Large pan

  1. Pick the Fruit

    Blackberries and Crap Apples often arrive in large volumes so this is unlikely to take you long.
    Leave enough for local wildlife, birds and other animals use blackberries as a good food source before winter sets in.
    Do check the legalities of foraging in your area – I’ve written a brief summary of this for the UK here.

  2. Prepare the Fruit

    This is where the joy of this recipe comes into force. Removed any unwanted hitchhikers. I tend to do this by leaving the fruit for a short time exposed in a bright sunny area. Most creatures living on the fruit aren’t too keen on suddenly being left exposed like this and move off quickly.
    Wash the fruit in water to remove any creatures that didn’t like your more subtle methods of persuasion.
    Cut the crab apples in half to ensure that there isn’t anything living in the central core.
    Thats it – super easy and non time consuming!

  3. Cook until soft and pulpy

    Put them into the pan, with the lemon juice and rind and add a little water, to stop the apples sticking. Cook over a gentle heat until the apples are soft and pulpy.Pulp mix - Crab Apple Butter - Bushcraft - Pippin & Gile

  4. Push through a seive

    You should now have a deep purple mix with fluffy apples interspersing it. Push the mix through a sieve with a spoon, scraping off the mix at the bottom.Pushing through sieve - Crab Apple Butter - Bushcraft - Pippin & Gile

  5. Add sugar

    Weigh the resulting fruit pulp and add 350g of sugar for every 500g of fruit pulp.
    Any sugar will do, a brown sugar will add a richer caramelised flavour to the butter and darken the colour. I use sugar beat sugar as its British grown and reduces the food miles.

  6. Prepare jars

    Heat clean jars up in an oven or dutch oven, to stop them cracking and to sterilise them, boiling also works. I dry heated mine in a dutch oven and boiled the lids.

  7. Boil for 10 minutes

    Return to the heat, being careful to stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved, or it can burn. Then boil gently for 10 minutes.
    Final Cook - Crab Apple Butter - Foraging - Bushcraft - Pippin & Gile

  8. Jar

    Pour the mix into jars, being careful not to get the tops of the jars sticky as this can affect the seal. A jam funnel is very helpful for this.
    Bottling - Foraging - Preserves - Bushcraft - Pippin & Gile

  9. Lid, Label and Enjoy

    Add the lids whilst the butter is hot. Tamper seal poppers in the lids should depress as the air cools and creates a vacuum.
    Label once cooled, the glue melts and you get hot fingers otherwise.
    Try out your creations!

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