I decided to make pear butter (and several kinds of pear jams) when this year’s pear harvest flooded the farmer stands and supermarkets. This was inspired by a recipe from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes which I found earlier this summer. Pears, right now, are $1/pound. And pear butter made in the crockpot is 15 minutes of work, and 6-8 hours of set-it-forget-it time…perfect for holiday jams!
A friend suggested roasting the pears first – a variation I haven’t yet tried. However, any process that softens the pears will work, and roasting would definitely deepen the pear flavors.
I changed up Elise’s spices; her original recipe uses star anise, ginger, nutmeg and cardomem. For me, the simplicity of vanilla, ginger and pears just works better – but if you prefer the more intense spices of apple butter (cinnamon, ginger, and cloves) they work well, too. If you don’t have a food mill, a colander and the back of a metal spoon to press the pears into puree will also work. You could also peel the pears, which will save work straining out the bits that don’t make a good butter – but the peels help add pectin and consistency (and flavor) to the finished butter. If you don’t have a crockpot, you can cook the puree into butter on the stovetop, on very low heat in a heavy pan; you’ll need to stir it often to make sure it doesn’t burn or stick. The crockpot does eliminate that problem. Enjoy!
(crockpot) PEAR BUTTER
3 lbs chopped Bartlett pears
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ (about 3 inches) of fresh vanilla bean, whole
- Chop and core the pears, removing the bruised parts. No need to peel them, unless you don’t have a food mill and want easier straining later.
- Put chopped pears, ginger and piece of vanilla bean into a large pot with the water and lemon juice.
- Bring the pears to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 25-30 minutes or until the pears are completely soft.
- Remove from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean from the puree and set aside.
- Put the pears and liquid through a food mill, catching the puree in large measuring bowl (I like to use my Pyrex® 8-cup measuring cup/bowl.)
- Discard the peels and unusable bits, and measure the puree. You should have approximately five cups of puree.
- For every cup of pear purée, stir in 1/2 cup of sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Split and scrape the vanilla bean to remove the seeds. Add the vanilla bean seeds to the pear puree, stirring well.
- Pour the mixture into a 3-4 qt. crockpot. Set the crockpot to medium and let the mixture cook down overnight or between six and seven hours. The cooked pear puree should be very thick.
- Test for ‘butter’ consistency by putting about a teaspoon of the mixture onto a chilled plate; if it’s not runny, it’s done. If it’s runny, cook for another hour or two and repeat the test.
- Place the hot pear butter into hot sterilized canning jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.
- Process in a hot-water-bath according to the USDA instructions: 10 minutes for one-cup jars.
Makes 6 to 8 half-pint jars.