Monday, November 19, 2012

Pear Butter

About a month ago my husband's boss gave us a big sack of pears off his trees, about 10 or 12 pounds worth. They sat for quite a while in the garage fridge waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.

I decided to use up some of them to make pear butter.

I used the recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. They have a recipe for peach butter, with a pear butter variation in the footnotes. They also have a variation that uses amaretto liqueur, which sounds delicious, but I decided to go with regular pear butter for my first time.

The recipe called for "7 lbs. of pears, peeled, cored, and chopped." What annoys me about these sorts of recipes is that they don't tell you if it's 7 lbs. before or after you peel and core them! I'd much prefer if they told me how much to have after they are peeled and cored. Much more precise that way. I mean, how do they know how much peel or core you're removing?

So I started peeling and coring and chopping them, weighing them as I went, until I got to about 5 lbs., which started to make my pot look quite full. I decided they probably meant weight before peeling and coring, so I stopped there.

I still have plenty of pears to use for other things.

First the pears are cooked in half a cup of water, and the juice and zest of one lemon. Instead of water I used apple cider. Thought it would make it tastier that way.

Once they are soft, you're supposed to puree them. After trying to puree hot soup in a blender before and getting a nasty surprise, I decided to use the stick blender this time. This actually turned out to be harder than I thought. I think stick blenders work well on more liquidy stuff, but it was a pain getting all the chunks worked out of these pears.

After pureeing, I added the 4 cups of sugar, juice and zest of 1 orange, and 1 tsp. (approximately, since I grate it myself) of nutmeg. Then comes the part where you cook it and cook it and cook it until it thickens. Same as with the pumpkin butter, this took a really really long time. I actually ran out of time, had to stop, put it in the fridge, and finish it off on another day.

Finally, it was done, at least to my satisfaction. You can see here it got much darker in color, I'm guessing due to caramelization. Next I loaded it up into sterilized jars and canned it in my steam canner.

As usual, it seems every time I can things, I end up with extra jars. I managed to fill 10 jelly jars instead of 8 like the recipe said. I always sterilize an extra two jars because of this. I really don't know why it always ends up that way.

Here is the finished product. I sent one jar back with my husband to give to his boss in return for giving us the pears. As with the pumpkin butter, my favorite thing to do with this stuff is mix it into oatmeal. It has a nice flavor with the citrus peels and nutmeg. Next time I get a huge load of pears, I'll try the amaretto variation.

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