A friend of mine recently gave me some freshly picked pears from her pear tree. They were green when she picked them but they ripened into the best pears I’ve had in a long time. I ate a few, used a few to make Pear Spice Cake then decided to use the rest to make Spiced Pear Butter, a wonderful pear puree with the flavors of warm Autumn spices and just a hint of citrus. It turns ordinary toast into a work of art. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. It is really delicious, though.
I didn’t have the full amount of fruit so I halved the recipe, using 2 pounds of pears. Once the pears were cooked, I forced them through a sieve, a process that takes a few minutes to extract the pears from the pear peels. Peeling the pears would eliminate this step but might change the texture/thickness/flavor of the finished product (there’s pectin in the pear peel). I’ll experiment with that the next time I make it.
Instead of using citrus slices, I used a 3″ piece of lemon zest and two 3″ pieces of orange zest (removing as much white pith as possible from the zest). Even though I made only a half recipe, I still used a whole cinnamon stick and the 4 cloves. I didn’t have cardamom so I didn’t use it. I used half of a vanilla bean then split it down the middle. The split vanilla bean adds those little black seeds (black specks) to the pear mixture. If you don’t feel like pureeing the cooked pears, you’ll have a delicious pear sauce (same texture as apple sauce). I didn’t do the canning process; I just put the cooled pear butter in the fridge. I can’t wait to try it warmed up and served over vanilla ice cream. Yumm!
Spiced Pear Butter
-recipe from epicurious.com
On the gift card that she encloses with these preserves, food editor Kristine Kidd tells her friends to spread the pear butter on toast, French toast or pancakes or to heat it and spoon it over vanilla ice cream. If you want to omit the canning process, go ahead: The butter can be stored in the refrigerator up to two weeks.
Yield: Makes about 4 cups
4 pounds Bartlett pears (unpeeled), cored, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 orange slices
1 lemon slice
4 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
Combine pears, wine and lemon juice in heavy large saucepan. Cover and simmer until pears are soft, pushing unsubmerged pears into liquid occasionally, about 25 minutes. Force through food mill or coarse sieve to remove pear peel. Transfer to processor and puree.
Return puree to heavy large sauce-pan. Add remaining ingredients. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and boil gently until mixture thickens and mounds slightly on spoon stirring often, about 50 minutes.
Discard fruit slices, cloves, vanilla and cinnamon. Spoon butter into hot canning jar, filling only to 1/4 inch form top. Immediately wipe rim, using towel dipped into hot water. Place lid on jar; seal tightly. Repeat with remaining jars.
Arrange jars in large pot. Add boiling water to pot so that at least 1 inch of water covers tops of jars. Cover pot and boil rapidly 15 minutes. Remove jars from pot. Cool to room temperature. Press center of each lid. If lid stays down, jar is sealed. (If lid pops up, store butter in refrigerator.) Store in cool dry place up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.