Pear Butter

CanningJamPear

Homemade pear butter spiced with star anise, ginger, lemon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Every year during apple season I spend days hovering over a large copper pot, slowly stirring a thick, bubbling mixture that will become our year’s supply of apple butter. And every fall for the last several seasons I’ve wondered how I would work the same magic on pears.

I’ve seen plenty of recipes for pear butter, but most of them look like apple butter to me, heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Pears are more floral than apples. I wanted to see them with ginger, and nutmeg, and maybe some cardamom.

So when my pal Hank offered me a a bagful of Bartletts freshly picked from his backyard tree, I was all over it.

pear-butter-method-8

This pear butter is similar to apple butter in that it is a spicy, sweet, tangy spread, great over buttered toast (there is no “butter” in apple butter or pear butter), but with a distinctly different taste coming from the pears (obviously) and the seasonings of star anise, ginger, lemon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Pear Butter Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 6 to 8 half-pint jars

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 lbs chopped Bartlett pears, do not peel or core them (remove any bruised or damaged parts)
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2-3 cups sugar (adjust down or up given the sweetness of the pears)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Special equipment:

  • A wide 8-quart, thick-bottomed pan
  • A food mill or chinois
  • A large (8 cup) measuring cup
  • 6-8 8-ounce canning jars, lids, and rings

Method

1 Cook chopped pears with star anise, ginger, water, and lemon juice: Put chopped pears, star anise, and ginger into a large pot. Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of lemon juice.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the pears are completely soft, anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat.

2 Push cooked pears through food mill: Fish out and discard the star anise from the pear mixture. Ladle the pear mixture (liquid included) into a chinoise or food mill and (use a pestle if using a chinoise) force the mixture through to a large bowl below.

Discard remaining solids (seeds, stems, tough parts).

3 Add pear purée, sugar, spices to pot: Measure the resulting purée, and pour into a large (8-qt), wide, thick-bottomed pan. For every cup of pear purée, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar (adjust given the sweetness of the pears). Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add the cardamom, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

4 Cook until thick: Cook on medium heat, stirring often to prevent the purée from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Cook until the mixture is quite thick, and a small bit placed on a chilled plate is not runny.

This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the batch.

5 Sterilize jars for canning: While the mixture is cooking, sterilize the jars for canning.

To sterilized the jars, either 1) run them through the short cycle of your dishwasher, 2) rinse them and place them in a 225°F oven for 10 minutes, or 3) place them on top of a steaming rack in a large pot of water which you bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

6 Pour pear butter into jars to can: When the pear butter is ready, pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal, allowing for 1/4-inch head space between the pear butter and the rims of the jars.

If you plan to store the pear butter outside of a refrigerator, follow proper canning procedures.

Before applying the lids, sterilize them by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them.

Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying lids. Use a hot water bath* for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal.

*Place on a steaming rack in a large pot of boiling water that covers the jars by at least an inch.

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Pear butter with white wine and fennel from Local Kitchen

Pear Butter

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

92 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Wanie

    Thank you for the recipe. I wanted to keep the fiber from the pears so I just use an immersion blender to blend it all up. I also used about 2 cups of swerve, and 1/4 cup white sugar (just to make sure it reduces). Taste great!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Maureen

    I’ve made and canned this pear butter for a couple year now. It is, hands down, my family’s favorite toast topper and oatmeal mix in. Also recommend as a cookie filling!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Diane

    Is 1 CUP lemon juice correct? Seems like an awful lot! Other recipes have none or up to 2 Tbl. so just want to verify. Thanks!

    Show Replies (2)
  4. SJ

    This pear butter is delicious!! It turned out so well, I’m making more for my family for Christmas! I have a very prolific pear tree, and the pears are very tart and flavorful – not great for eating, but perfect for this (I have no idea what kind they are, but I know they don’t ever get soft). I made this recipe just as written, except that I didn’t have a food mill or chinois. So after I cooked the pears until they were very soft, I put them in the food processor until they were very smooth, then ran the mixture through a very fine mesh strainer (actually, one that my husband got for beer making). That worked great! I ended up with a really nice texture, and all of the original flavor. I wasn’t sure about the ginger at first, but it really works well with the other spices, and made my kitchen smell amazing!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Billie

    I made this recipe and substituted pear juice for water and the taste was very good (although I had to add spices because it was bland, but at least it tasted like pear instead of lemon). The processing through the chinois was awful though – it would be much easier to skin and core the pears than it was to force-grind the pear through the manual sieve. And I bet the volume would be higher as well since a LOT of matter was left in the chinois even after exhaustive effort to push it all through. What came through the chinois was more like juice than a puree.

    I cooked it for a long time, but not long enough since what I canned was still very runny the next morning. I used 5.6 lbs of pears in this recipe (after removing any bad parts) and got only one pint of pear butter.

    My recommendation: 1) Peel and core the pears – it’s much easier than dealing with a chinois and manually trying to get the pulp through the skin and tiny holes. 2) Use pear juice instead of water in order to keep your pear butter flavor like pear instead of lemon or watery (you can the acidity with a ph strip used in chemistry classes). 3) Adjust spices to your taste.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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