Commercial fruit spreads sometimes contain ingredients like food dyes, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners that make them less healthy than their reputation suggests. With a homemade spread, you can make a cheaper, healthier and more natural snacking alternative, controlling the quality of your ingredients. Eating homemade fruit spread on crackers, toast or chips can help create healthy snacking habits and improve your weight, cholesterol and overall health. Homemade fruit spread can even be used with grilled chicken or pork in a sweet and savory dish.
Things You'll Need
Hold an apple or pear in your non-dominant hand. Remove the skin using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. Repeat until you’ve peeled every apple and every pear.
Chop the pears and apples into small pieces, varying slightly in size and shape. Each piece should be roughly no longer/bigger than a quarter and a dime lined up next to each other. Guide your cuts by chopping the fruit into four or five large slices and working your way down from there.
Put about 1 inch of water into a large pot and pile the apples and pears about 3 to 4 inches high in the pot. The exact ratio of water and fruit doesn’t matter–you should focus on the fruit’s consistency. If you put in less water and more fruit, they’ll have to cook for longer to get the same level of softness and you might have to add more water. If you put in less fruit and more water, you might have to drain the pot.
Add about a half-inch of lemon juice (either freshly squeezed or bottled) to the pot. You can do this either during or after you cook the fruit. If you follow this step and cook the fruit with the lemon juice, some of it will be absorbed into the apples and pears and your final spread will have more of a savory taste. If you add it later (along with the cinnamon, vanilla and other ingredients), your spread will be a bit sweeter and have a tang to it.
Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. If you added lemon juice in Step 4, it’s better to put the fruit in the pot before the water/lemon juice starts boiling, so you can make sure none of the lemon juice boils away. Keep the pot covered and simmering until the apples and pears are uniformly soft. Keep in mind that apples and pears are two different fruits and will have two different consistencies. They should be soft and barely mushy when done, but not yet pureed. Most of the water should have boiled away.
Put the fruit, water and lemon juice into your blender or food processor. Choose the “Puree” setting and process the fruit to your desired consistency. If you want to make the mixture softer, add water while you’re pureeing. Don’t be afraid if it’s too soft or runny–you can boil down any water in the next two steps.
Put the pureed fruit back into the pot and add the optional ingredients to your preferred taste. You should use roughly 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon for every 5 cups of fruit you chopped in Step 2, 1/8 tsp. or less of cloves, ginger or allspice, and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla. If you didn’t add lemon juice in Step 4, now is the time to do that. The more of the listed optional ingredients you add, the richer and fuller the flavor will be.
Leave the mixture on medium to medium-low heat (depending on whether or not you want to boil away more water) and occasionally stir it until it thickens slightly. You can stop heating the spread as soon as you’re satisfied with your creation or skip heating it altogether if you already like what you have.
Let the spread cool and pour it into your jars. Seal and refrigerate it, and the spread should last anywhere between one to two months.
If you want to make your mixture sweeter, add half a cup of sugar for every 5 cups of chopped fruit you cut in Step 2. Put the sugar into the pot when the water starts to simmer, and bring it to a boil for at least a full minute.
When cutting the fruit, aim for longer, flatter pieces rather than cubes. This will increase the surface area of the pieces and make it easier for them to absorb water when they cook.
This recipe works with any kind of fruit, and you can mix and match ingredients to try new flavors.
To make jam instead of spread, add a package of pectin to the boiling fruit/water/lemon juice combination. You should also add 4 cups of sugar for every 5 cups of chopped fruit if you’re looking to make jam.
References and ResourcesPick Your Own: How to make Fig Jam--Easily!
DLife: Healthy Swaps--Apple Spread