Waste Not Want Not OR Spiced Pear Butter

Pear butter and cream cheese slathered on fresh-baked bread and canning jars of just-made pear butter ready for the freezer.

Jack and I try not to waste, especially when it comes to food. When our school’s head cook brought me a box of pears that were too banged up and bruised to serve to students, I gladly took them with the promise of creating something tasty in return.

I bagged up what weighed in at eight pounds of what appeared to be d’Anjou pears. With our supply of maple syrup running low (pancakes and waffles are a weekly feature on our breakfast menu) I reckoned they’d cook down into a fair amount of sweet, lightly spiced pear butter.

Outside it was blowing a gale. I made the walk home in near white-out blizzard conditions only to find my front door knob frozen solid! A snow drift as high as the house had the other door completely buried! After trudging back to school to get help – and fortunately finding one of our maintenance crew who knew exactly what to do – I decided to forego a walk to the store to pick up orange juice, a key element in my most recent batch of pear butter. I did have plenty of lemon juice on hand. Time to experiment.

I have to say this pear butter came out even better than the last. If you picked this up in a cute jar in a boutique gourmet shoppe, you would be happy you spent the $8.

Making pear butter requires an investment of time and effort, but it’s worth it. We taste tested it on Challah bread with a smear of cream cheese. Delicious. We already can imagine filling all the nooks in our weekend waffles with warmed pear butter and chopped pecans. It would be equally tasty on broiled pork chops or grilled chicken.

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds of cored pears cut into cubes (D’Anjou or Bartlett)
  • 1 tbsp dry ground ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 4 – 5 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp orange zest (lemon would be good, too)

Directions

  1. Put cubed pears and ginger into a large pot – preferably one with a thick enough bottom to prevent scorching. Add 2 cups water and 1 cup lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pears are soft, 25 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2.  Purée the mixture using food processor, stick or regular blender. Pour puréed pears back into large pot.
  3. Add sugar. Taste after adding 4 cups to see if more sugar is needed. Add cardamom and citrus zest. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  4. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent the purée from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Cook until the mixture is fairly thick. Test by placing a small dollop on a chilled plate: it should not be runny. The cooking-down time can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the batch.
  5. Store in freezer containers or canning jars.
Recipe adapted from http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pear_butter/

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