A Trio of Pear Butters
It’s always a surprise to me to see those fruits of winter appear again in our markets – and pears are one of my favorites. You all know (or can easily figure out) that butters are one of my favorite and frequently prepared jarred items. They are so easy – especially if you do it the way I do which is to leave the skins on and just cook them down to a softness that is easily pureed. From there, all you need do is add spices, sugar if needed or desired, and cook til it’s the right consistency. And if you do in a crock pot, it needs very little tending.
Versatile? Absolutely! I’ve shared, discussed, written about so many ways to use fruit butters. Simply added to yogurts and oatmeal or other grains. Spread on pancakes and waffles, or with soft cheeses as an appetizers with crackers or a sandwich with breads. Nice snack or lunch, that one! A few years ago I also shared my discovery of using Ginger Pear Butter as a glaze for roast chicken – see the recipe and menu here.
A Trio You Ask? Yup, here’s my basic Pear Butter recipe along with the Ginger Pear Recipe. And a fun one I’ve added this year – Rum Pear Butter. This last one is fun for gifting along with using with soft cheeses for party appetizers. Have fun – maybe get a bunch of jars in your pantry now to reach for and enjoy all year long (and for gifting, too!).
A few notes: most recipes for Pear Butter suggest removing skins (by sieve or other method). This is a matter of preference. Pureeing with an immersion blendor or in a food processor (with the skins on), however, saves a lot of time and trouble and increases the natural pectin (found in the skins) as well as the nutritional value. I suggest using organic pears, if using this method, since tree fruit often retain a large amount of the pesticides used.
Sugar can be varied depending on sweetness of the fruit, or omitted all together. Note that this will not affect the shelf life but the lower the sugar, the thinner the butter and the shorter the refrigerator life after jar is opened. The ripeness of pears is critical: too firm and they won’t cook down into a nice puree. Too soft and the resulting pulp will be difficult to get to a nice “set” point for a butter, resulting in a less firm product.
Yield: About 6-8 Half Pints (varies with ripeness of fruit)
5 lbs. chopped Bartlett or Bosc Pears (organic preferred, just ripe but firm)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh or bottled lemon juice
1 cup organic raw sugar, cane sugar or light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Prepare water-bath canner and place jars into pot, bringing to a boil on holding on medium heat until needed. Place lids and bands in heat-proof bowl or saucepan.
Quarter pears, removing cores and any damaged areas, then chop each quarter into halves – no need to remove skins. Place in stockpot along with water.
Cook down over medium heat so that pears are completely soft – this will take about 20 minutes depending on ripeness of pears. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender or food processor. Add spices, lemon juice and sugar. Adjust spices to taste. Cook on medium to medium high heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. This can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears and the amount of water added. Or, if you prefer, the mixture can be poured into a crock pot and cooked with lid slightly ajar (to cook off moisture). If doing this way, mixture does not need tending but will need to cook from 6 to 8 hours. Cook until butter texture is reached: test by placing a small amount on a spoon and, when cooled, holds texture and does not run.
When ready, pour into hot, sterilized jars, remove air pockets, wipe rims. Add boiling water to bowl with lids/bands and place on jars. Place in simmering hot water bath and process for 10 minutes after water has returned to rapid boil. Turn off heat, remove from canner and place on towel on heat-proof counter or cutting board. Do not move for 12 hours. Test seals after 1 hour and immediately refrigerate any non-sealed jars. Label and store in a cool, dark place.
Ginger Pear Butter
Add 1-2 tablespoons pureed ginger (fresh, found in produce section of store), or 2 tablespoons grated ginger. Follow recipe as above.
Rum Pear Butter
Add 3/4 cup Rum (light or dark) and follow recipe as above.