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

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  • 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
  • 3-4 cups sugar
  • 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 1/2 cup of sugar. 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.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Pear Butter on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

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Links:

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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.

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66 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • ak gary

    I used less than 1/2 of the sugar. 2 1/2 cups to 10 cups pulp after processing. The recipe is way too sweet. But then…. I LOVED the result. I weighed AFTER chopping 5 pounds of pears.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • ann gary

    Really excellent. The star anise is KEY. Made two batches. Second had less lemon juice but still about 2/3 cups and worked OK too. I had Seckel pears so cooked longer and then held in the hot pot before processing to ensure that they were fully soft. I used the SQUEEZO on the fine sieve that took some of the corseness out of the pear. Will make again! NICE that it does NOT have cinnamon in it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jennifer

    Ah-freakin’amazing!!! The flavors are spot on. I didn’t have anise so I subbed for 1tsp cinnamon & subbed the lemon zest for orange zest (it was the only zest I had). Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Julie

    This pear butter is so delicious! I was worried the anise would add too strong of a licorice taste–it does not. The blend of spices and lemon juice with the pear is heavenly! I’ve given a couple small jars to friends and they all agree this pear butter recipe is amazing!

    I had a some bruised pears left in my fridge from the small harvest we got off our fairly young pear tree. I heard someone mention pear butter and googled recipes to see if I could put my remaining pears to good use. I do not have a food mill. I peeled, cored and cut around bruises and came up with 2 lbs of useable pear chunks so I halved the recipe. I wished I had more pears on hand to make another batch!

    I used a Ninja to puree my cooked pears after removing the ginger and anise. It took about an hour of cooking to get to the correct consistency. The pear butter “slides” back and forth in my processed jars–I was worried it would be too runny (even though the small bit put on the plate was not runny) but it’s not.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Karen K

    Wow, you nailed the spices on this!
    We have a favorite local pear farmer with a short season, so I decided my jam cabinet needed pear butter!
    I made this using my usual oven method for plum butter. Instead of putting it back in the pan, I divided the mixture between two 9×12 pans and baked at 350 for a bit less than 2 hours, stirring well every 30 minutes. Do the freezer test to see when it’s done to your liking, it will firm up as it cools.

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