Thursday, December 24, 2015

Pear Butter

I generally have a hard time with summer ending. The fruit aisle at the grocery store transitions from stands bursting with cherries, berries, and peaches to a pathetic selection of approximately three fruits that are actually good in winter plus a bunch of pale, anemic fruits that are coaxed to survive through the dead of January. The plus side is that the few good winter fruits are very good and very versatile. Pears are one such fruit, and I think they are underappreciated. If you disagree, perhaps this pear butter can persuade you otherwise.

In case you’re new to fruit “butter,” it’s simply fruit that has been cooked and pureed to a thick spread and sweetened. It often has spices added. I like it because it’s more full-bodied and less overwhelmingly sweet than jams and jellies. Also, it’s really easy to make (no pectin required). For this recipe, you pretty much just chop pears into a crockpot, stir it now and then, and then add sugar and a few spices.

This pear butter has just the right amount of sweet and spice. It makes a great addition to morning toast and is fancy enough to give as a gift. If you can bear to part with it, that is.

Fun Fact: Fruits in general are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Potassium is a mineral with many vital functions in the human body, including nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Minerals can be lost in cooking water, but they are not destroyed by heat.

Pear Butter
Adapted from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan
5 cups chopped pears, cored but unpeeled (I used Bosc pears and was very happy with the result, but the recipe doesn’t specify a variety)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
juice of ½ lemon
1 cup sugar, can add more to taste

Place the chopped pears in a crockpot, and cook on low, covered, for 1 hour.

Stir the pears, and prop the lid slightly open by a wooden spoon or other utensil. Continue to cook for about 5-7 hours, stirring the pears every hour. After 4 hours, mash and or blend the pears to the desired consistency. Stir in the spices.

During the last hour of cooking, add lemon juice and sugar to taste. Continue to cook until the mixture is thick and spreadable, and then store in a jar in the refrigerator. Enjoy on toast, fruit, yogurt, etc. Makes about 2½ - 3 cups, depending on how thick you make it.

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