Butters are spreads that are used like butter, but only one of them contains butter. They are called that because they are smooth and spread like butter.

What are fruit butters?

Fresh fruit is cooked slowly with some sugar and then pureed. They don't have any butter, but are smooth and spread like butter. They are cooked with far less sugar than jams and jellies, and so have less calories. Apple butter is the most popular, but many different kinds of fruits can be used. Because they are sweet they taste great on toast, or on waffles and pancakes instead of syrup, and can often be used in place of jams or preserves.

There are four ways to cook fruit butters - in a crock pot, on top of the stove, in a microwave or conventional oven. Whatever way you make them, they are healthy and delicious!

What are nut butters?

Peanut butter, of course, is the most popular nut butter. But there are others that you may not have heard of. Almonds, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are the most popular nuts made into butters. Even though they have a fat content, they make a healthy addition to the diet, as they are rich in protein, fiber and acids that are important for health. They taste great on toast and bagels, and as a dip for vegetables such as celery.

Some nut butters can now be found in grocery stores, as well as in specialty groceries and health-food stores, and on the Internet. But it's also very easy to make your own by grinding up whole nuts in a food processor (it will take about 15 minutes to get creamy, but keep an eye on it). Raw nut butters should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. If the oil separates from the solids, just stir to mix in the oil.

Roasting the nuts gives the butter a richer taste. Put the raw nuts on a foil lined cookie sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent burning.

When you process the nuts, you can add all sorts of flavorings, including maple syrup, spices, sugar and honey. This is a matter of taste - some people prefer a more healthy snack of plain nut butters.

What are herb butters?

Herb butters make tasty spreads for French bread, or melted on seafood, chicken and other foods. They can also be mixed in with pasta and vegetables. Soften a stick of butter and add approximately three tablespoons finely chopped herbs (according to your taste). Add a little lemon juice and salt. If you have butter left over it can be frozen. This is the easiest of the butters to make, since all you do is mix the butter and herbs together. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week, or a month in the freezer.

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