As autumn finally takes hold in Sacramento, flocks of locals and tourists alike head to the foothills of gold country to visit Apple Hill. It’s a seasonal ritual around here and one of the things I missed so dearly when I lived in San Luis Obispo. They have apple everything – cider, pies, fritters, wine, and all sorts of preserves. I’ve come home with a jar of apple butter every single time I’ve gone, but this year, I felt called to experiment with a batch of my own.
When I came home with 10 pounds of fresh jujube dates, I figured that I could get my fix of this autumn staple made with a medicinal twist. Thus came to life this spiced jujube date butter, which is a warming digestive tonic in addition to a delicious fall treat. Read more about jujube dates and their health benefits here. And of course, this recipe uses no added sugar. It’s not even necessary because it is naturally sweet!
This recipe will work for just about any fruit, but I really love using jujubes because they are delicious & so good for you! I harvested mine fresh, although dried ones will work too as long as you soak them in warm water for a few hours to rehydrate. This jujube butter is perfect spread onto toast or crackers or anywhere you would normally put jam… But the possibilities don’t end there! You can also substitute it partially or even completely for sugar in sweet recipes like banana bread. I love to sweeten my oatmeal with it as well.
Sound good? Here’s what you will need:
1-2 lbs fresh or soaked jujube dates
Juice of 1 lemon
Water to cover
10 slices dried astragalus root
1/2 tsp dried licorice root
1 cinnamon stick
5 slices fresh ginger root
Unbleached muslin tea bag
I kept the skins & pits of my jujubes because they offer additional benefits, but I do recommend scoring the skin before cooking. If you’d rather not have to sift through all those skins and pits later, go ahead and peel & pit them ahead of time. Fill a crockpot 2/3 full with jujubes, then cover with cool filtered water & the lemon juice. Cover & cook on low heat overnight.
First thing in the morning, add your muslin tea bag filled with all of the herbs & spices. Simmer on low for an additional hour, then allow the whole pot to cool. Remove the spice bag, then strain out the dates & reserve the cooking liquid for jujube syrup! Mash the jujubes through a fine mesh colander over a large bowl. Add any powdered spices you’d like after a quick taste test, then scoop the butter into sterilized jars. Since contain no added sugar, they need to refrigerated & consumed with 2 weeks. You can also freeze small batches or give them as gifts!
If you would like to make some simple syrup as well, just mix equal parts sugar with tea reserved from the crockpot. Simmer together until the sugar dissolves, then pour into sterile bottles & refrigerate!