Black butter is a delicious fruit spread made from slow-cooked apples, cider, sugar, spices and liquorice. Over time, the ingredients combine to colour the spread a dark black-brown hue. It has its origins on the island of Jersey, where communities used to gather and make large batches using windfall apples from its cider orchards; the event became an excuse for full-scale merrymaking too, with dancing, singing and feasting taking place alongside the cooking.
Its use of liquorice distinguishes it from standard British fruit spreads, a reflection perhaps of Jersey's proximity to France and its culinary influences. Vive la difference, I say - any country* which gives us tasty cows & repeats on telly of Bergerac hurtling around the island in a grunty old Triumph can't be all that bad...
Making black butter seemed like a good way of using up the mass of apples I have lying around the place. I used Granny Smiths and some decrepit Cox's Orange.
- kg apples, peeled and cored
- g sugar
- L apple cider
- juice of a lemon
- g liquorice, chopped** (use proper; don't touch that liquorice-flavoured nonsense)
- tsp ground cloves
- tsp cinnamon
- tsp allspice
- / tsp nutmeg
And what to have it with? It's traditionally spread on bread or toast, as you would jam, but I think it's quite nice with cheese, like an aged Cheddar or an older, slightly salty Gouda (salt+sweet).
**To stop the liquorice from sticking to your blade, spray it with Sprink or rub with oil