Friday, October 21, 2011

Jujube Butter

 I've been discovering all kinds of exotic, fun fruits to create treats...jujubes were one of these discoveries that I made at Fentiman Farms, another little gem that I had never heard of. 

The clerk at the farm store encouraged me to take a bite because I didn't know how to eat them.  Jujubes are also called Asian Dates, and you can eat them like you would eat an apple.  They are similar to an apple in texture and taste, although they are not as sweet - to me, they have a nuttiness to their flavor - and they are much drier than an apple.

Posing for her close-up
Because of their dryness, I decided to attempt a butter.  Like apple butter, this is a thick fruit spread, and has no butter in it at all.  I've never made a butter before, but I figured 'how hard can it be?'  I looked up how to cook jujubes, and everything I found said to cook the jujubes in a pot in covered water until soft (can I get a timeframe here?) and then to mash them with a spoon in a colander or sieve to separate the seeds and skin.  This does not work.  I cooked them for 45 minutes.  They were soft.  I took a handful of them and put them in a colander.  Mash.  Mash.  Mash.  What happened was nothing.  I just smashed them, the seeds didn't work themselves out and the skin just mashed up with the flesh, and I had to pick out the pieces.  Ay de mi! 

I ended up letting the jujubes cool slightly and peeled them individually, by hand.  Wow.  That took about an hour.  Then I smashed them by hand and squashed the seeds out with my fingers.  About another 30 minutes.  I asked myself again for about the tenth time in the last couple months, who writes these directions/recipes?  Does nobody actually TRY them?*

Once the flesh was sufficiently smashed and somewhat smooth, I cooked it with vanilla extract, cinammon, sugar, and ground cloves, all to taste.  I cooked on medium-low heat for an hour and a half**.  I poured the paste in jars, then boiled the jars in a water bath for 20 minutes (because of its thickness) and let the jars cool.  It made 4 half-pints of jujube butter.  It resulted in a unique hazelnut flavor, perfect for spreading on whole wheat toast and butter.  This would be a fun one to give as small gifts throughout the holidays!  xo, AB.
*I read about making apple butter after-the-fact and found that this process would have been much easier if I had a chinois sieve (I have no idea what this is) or an apple grinder.  Okay, next time.

**Turns out this might have been too long.  I cooked it to the consistency that I wanted the finished product to be, but since the high pectin content will further thicken/harden the butter, I recommend cooking it for maybe 1 hour.  My jujube butter is very thick.  I heated it slightly to make it easier to spread on the French toast.


  1. Talk about trial and error! I read somewhere a long time ago that many of Martha Stewarts recipes in her first book didn't work and she was accused of not testing them well, of course she denied this but over the years I have had to tweak many recipes from cookbooks! Keep up the good work!