Sep. 11th, 2009

victorthecook: (Default)
So our place has a pear tree in the back yard -- elderly, kind of scraggly-looking, with snagged branches and some rotten limbs. But it puts out a lot of Bartlett (or Bartlett-like) pears. A whole lot. I gathered up yesterday's collection of windfalls, composted the bad ones, and had ten pounds or so of ripe-and-won't-keep pears. So: Pear butter. By analogy to apple butter, this is a highly-reduced pearsauce (like applesauce) highly spiced with clove and cinnamon, and sweetened. You can can or freeze it, and the pectin in the pears should help it to set.

First: wash the pears. Rinse the pears well. Then cut the stems off and cut them into eighths. Put 'em into a pot with an inch of water at the bottom. I added a teaspoon of citric acid (sour salt in the kosher section of the grocery) to keep the browning down and raise the acidity of the product. This time, I didn't core or peel the pears -- recipes vary, and you don't need to do it for apples.

Simmer the whole thing for about an hour until the chunks are very soft. Put 'em through a food mill with the finest plate fitted. My food mill didn't have a fine enough plate, so some seeds got through. I decided to keep an eye on it and strain the final product through a sieve.

Anyway, a cup of white and a cup of brown sugar, spices as per Marion Cunningham in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook's recent editions, and put the whole thing in a Crock-pot with the lid propped open. Cook about 18 hours, stirring every once in a while, and you have a thick, rich brown stuff. Which is kind of crunchy due to inadequate straining.

So I worked it through a fine-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. Tedious and tiring, but the final product is improved. If I were more hard-core, I'd probably work it through a second time -- but there's a limit to what I'll do for art.

Yield: A little over 3 pints. A little too heavy on the cloves, but not bad. Next time, I might try using ginger instead of the cloves-cinnamon-allspice mix, which pretty much overwhelms the pear flavor. It might also be better to core and peel the fruit -- but this batch wouldn't have gotten made if I'd had to peel and core 50 pears to start.


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