Lekvar is a thick fruit spread, with the consistency of apple butter. It is usually made from prunes or apricots and is well-known in many areas of Europe, but is particularly popular in Hungarian cuisine. Made by cooking fruit with the skin, and adding sugar, it is typically quite easy to prepare. In addition to being delicious as a spread on yeast breads and rolls, it is also used as cookie and pastry fillings.
Lekvar is usually made extra thick so it does not ooze out of baked goods. It is also used to make delicious syrups and fruit sauces. In addition to prunes and apricots, several other fruits can be used to make lekvar, including apricots, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Plums are often used to make lekvar in Poland, where it is called powidla.
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To prepare traditional Hungarian lekvar, only three basic ingredients are used: fruit, water and sugar. To begin, a heavy saucepan should be used to help prevent the fruit from scorching. Fruit should be seeded, cored and peeled. However, after peeling, the skin of the fruit is usually retained to add to the mixture after the pulp has cooked.
The fruit pulp is cooked over low heat, with a small amount of water, until liquefied. After being allowed to cool slightly, the fruit is strained, and the skin is added to the cooked pulp. This is often done to improve flavor, texture and color.
This combination of fruit pulp, skin, and water is cooked until the skin has completely softened. The mixture should be thick but not dry. Sugar is added after cooking is done, but while the fruit is still hot. About a cup (236 ml) of sugar should be added for each pound (454 g) of fruit, but more or less can be used according to taste.
To store lekvar, the hot fruit spread should be spooned into sterilized jars and sealed with canning lids. About a quarter inch (6.35 mm) of space should be left at the top. The filled jars are boiled in a hot water bath for about ten minutes, then left to cool in a heat-proof spot.
In Hungary, lekvar is usually made in the fall, when most fruit ripens. However, this fruit butter can be made any time of year, using dried fruit. To do this the dried fruit should be boiled in enough water to cover it, until it is soft. After softening the fruit, the traditional cooking method can be used. For those who do not wish to make their own lekvar, it can be found in gourmet shops, or in the international section of larger supermarkets.