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.
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.
Homemade Pear Butter
4 to 5 pounds chopped Bartlett pears, peels and cores included (remove any bruised or damaged parts)
1 whole star anise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 cups water
1 cup lemon juice
2 to 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
For pear butter
- Chinoise or food mill
- 6 to 8 half-pint glass canning jars
- 6 to 8 new canning lids and rings
- Flat steaming rack
- Large stock pot or canning pot
Cook the pears until mashable:
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.
Push the cooked pears through a 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).
Add the pear purée and sugar to the 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.
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.
Prepare jars for canning:
While the mixture is cooking, prepare a water bath for canning.
Place a steamer rack in a large stockpot, and place 6 to 8 half-pint canning jars on the rack. Fill the jars and the pot with enough hot water to cover the jars by 1 inch.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Wash the lids in hot, soapy water.
Because the jars will be processed in a water bath for 10 minutes, you do not need to sterilize the jars. They do, however, need to be warm.
Pour the pear butter into the jars:
When the pear butter is ready, pour into the hot jars. and seal, leaving 1/4 inch head space between the pear butter and the rims of the jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean. Screw on the bands so they are fingertip-tight.
At this point, you may either can the pear butter, or simply let it cool to room temperature and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
If you plan to store the pear butter outside of a refrigerator, follow proper canning procedures.
Lower the filled jars into the stock pot with canning tongs. Make sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a full rolling boil and process for 10 minutes.
The sealed jars will keep for a long time, but are best consumed within 1 year.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 96 to 128|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 8g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||5%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|