Fruit butters first appeared in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages when newly established monasteries began planting large orchards. To lengthen the fruit season, a preservation process was invented that involved slow cooking the whole fruit–skin, seeds and all–at a low heat.
All that simmering breaks the fruit down into a velvety, spreadable “butter,” with half the sugar of jams and jellies. While fruit butters can be made from all sorts of fruits; cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, etc., the Belgian Liège variety traditionally uses pears and apples. Most Belgian Sirop de Liège is thick, dark, and almost jelly-like.
Sirop de Liège is used primarily as a spread on an open-faced sandwich or piece of toast. It can be placed in a little container on a cheese plate. We like it spread on a toasted cheese sandwich! It can also be used as a sauce on meats or to replace syrup on pancakes and waffles. It is sometimes added as an ingredient in marinades, salads and desserts.
Here are a few Sirop de Liège recipes: