It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been feverishly cranking out some delicious treats for Patchwork Festival in Culver City, which is [gasp!] just 10 days away! This is the first time I am selling any of my creations, and looking at all of the other vendors who will be there, I am honored to be in such great company.
The lineup will include a variety of old favorites like pickles, ketchup and salsa, as well as a few new creations. My favorite new discovery came about during my recent trip to the Farmer’s Market. I came across some delicious, juicy D’Anjou pears. I had been toying with the idea of making Apple Butter for a while, but when I saw the pears I immediately thought about Pear Butter! I was hoping the wonderful nectary juice of the pairs and the firm, almost grainy flesh would make for an interesting texture and deep flavor. Combined with the warm flavors typically associated with fruit butters – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and allspice – I was definitely ready to give this a go.
I started by peeling, coring and dicing my pears and tossed them in my Le Creuset with a little bit of water (cider would have been awesome if I’d had any on hand.) I sprinkled them with a little sugar, tossed in my little cheesecloth pouch filled with spices and brought the whole thing to a simmer, then covered and reduced it as low as it could go. Then I walked away. Fifteen minutes or so later, I just had to peek. The pears were starting to soften and turn translucent, and the waft of sweet cinnamony steam was so lovely. I gave it a quick stir and let it keep going for another hour, stirring every so often and tasting for sweetness. These pears were pretty sweet, so a heaping quarter cup was plenty for this batch.
Once they looked totally soft, I whirred them up with my stick blender until it looked pretty smooth, but it still looked a little thin. After all, I don’t want pear sauce. I want pear BUTTER. A half hour of patience later and it was looking pretty darn good.
From here, I filled 4 ounce jars and processed them in a boiling water canner for 12 minutes, but you could just transfer it to any glass container with a lid and store it in the fridge for a good few months. But it is so delicious, I doubt it will last that long. My honey and I slathered some on fresh pancakes. Heaven.
So, that’s the news from my world this week. Try out the pear butter for yourself, or, better yet, come to by booth at Patchwork for a sample! Have a great weekend, everybody!
Yeilds about 3 cups prepared
This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a method. You can take all kinds of liberties with the flavors to make it however you like.
10 lbs fresh pears, cored, peeled and diced in 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup water (or cider or juice)
1/4 cup sugar (less or more to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods, cracked
5 whole cloves
5 allspice berries
(Or any combination of spices, whole or ground)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Tie whole spices in cheesecloth and tie securely with kitchen twine. (If you prefer to use ground spices, add them with the sugar.) Add pear chunks to a large dutch oven or heavy pot with lid along with liquid and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in sugar and toss in spice pouch (or sprinkle in ground spices if using.) Stir in vanilla. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until a paring knife effortlessly slides through the pears. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if desired.
Remove spice pouch and blend with a stick blender (if you don’t have a stick blender, allow pears to cool uncovered for fifteen minutes and transfer to a blender or food processor, or for chunkier texture, mash with a potato masher.) Cook blended mixture on medium-low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is to desired thickness.
Store covered in a glass dish in the refrigerator. Keeps three months.
To preserve, fill hot sterile jars with hot pear butter, leaving a 1/4 inch space from the rim. Tap the bottoms of the jars gently against a soft surface (like a dish towel) and run a paring knife along the inside to release any air bubbles. Cover with sterile lids and bands and submerge in a boiling water canner for 12 minutes. Keeps unopened one year. Refrigerate after opening for up to three months.