You butter believe Missouri and Illinois farmers are making the most of the yields from their fields, turning everything from apples and peaches to persimmons and pumpkins into sweet spreads. Choose your favorite flavor of fruit butter from this list and lather a warm biscuit with it, stir it into yogurt, toss it into a vinaigrette or pour it over ice cream. It might even have a place on your Thanksgiving table this year.
For more than 100 years, Eckert’s has been nurturing its farms in Illinois, growing an abundance of apples, peaches, strawberries, blackberries and more. While it’s fun to gather the whole family for a pick-your-own experience and experiment with the fruits at home, you can also pop by Eckert’s Country Store in Belleville to stock up on delicious products made with the farms’ yield. The apple and peach butters are tempting, but the pumpkin butter is simply irresistible. eckerts.com
Although the pure raw honey has already been crowned queen of this fourth-generation business, Bekemeier’s in Neosho, Missouri, is also proud of its fruit butters. While it produces apple butter, it’s the more unconventional flavors that really create buzz among customers. Try the pumpkin, caramel apple and cinnamon candy apple butters for a seasonal treat, or order blackberry, strawberry and peach butters for a taste of summer all year long. ozarkafarms.com/bekemeiers
College of the Ozarks
The art of canning has been part of the work education program at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, for generations. The recipe for its signature apple butter starts with 10 gallons of unsweetened applesauce, which are processed in a steam vat. As the applesauce heats up, 25 pounds of sugar along with cinnamon, cloves, salt and other spices are slowly added. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, the mixture cooks for 20 minutes, after which it’s poured into 8- and 16-ounce jars – get your hands on one to taste the students’ sweet success. store.cofo.edu
A contemporary neighborhood market and rotisserie, Hoss’s in Columbia, Missouri, boasts an array of gourmet products, including salsas, seasonings and, of course, fruit butters. Sold under the Hoss’s brand, the apple, peach and cherry butters are available year-round, and the pumpkin butter is available from Oct. 1 to the end of the year. If you don’t live in the area, call the store to place an order for delivery. Once you’ve snagged a set of fruit butters, pair them with old-fashioned popovers or use them as a natural filling for homemade Toaster Strudels. hosssmarket.com
Persimmon Hill Farm
Besides making jams, jellies and preserves, Earnie and Martha Bohner, owners of Persimmon Hill Farm in Lampe, Missouri, use their bounty to produce apple and persimmon butters as well as a seasonal peach butter. A “taste of fall in the Ozarks,” the persimmon butter is made with ripe wild persimmons, when the golden orange fruit is at the peak of flavor. After the Bohners gather the fruit by hand and press the pulp from it, they slow-cook each batch with cane sugar and lemon juice until the texture becomes thick and velvety. Enjoy your favorite flavor on hot toast to start your day off right. persimmonhill.com