I wish I had documented every thing we canned to share with you, but lately I've been taking a much needed break from blogging recipes (sometimes it's just nice to eat food without documenting it), and falling back on the very easy to write CSA posts (sorry to all of those out there who have hit the unsubscribe button).Back to canning. You'll notice that in that long string of canned foods there are quite a bit of pears. That's because I take care of three Bartlett pear trees that produce a lot of fruit. Sort of.
For the past five or so years, the pears disappear almost over night (really it's in about a three week period) when they are a few weeks out from being ripe. It's a huge mystery as to where hundreds of unripe pears go, as they used to not disappear, but we think it's a combination of deer, squirrels, and racoons that have wizened up over the years.
This year, I decided to not let the critters win. I harvested the pears while they were still unripe. Unripe pears work very well in chutneys and relishes when they are cooked down, so I used them there. I then waited a bit longer for the pears to be only a week out from ripe, then stripped the remaining fruit before the critters could get to them. These almost ripe pears sat in my basement for a week until they were fully ripe.
All in all, I think I got about a fifth of the pears, and the critters got the rest. This is a victory!Caramelized Pear Butter
makes about 8 pints
I was intrigued by the use of caramelized sugar in this recipe for pear butter, and combined the caramelization technique with another recipe for pear butter.
1/4 cup apple juice
6 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
7 pounds pears, peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups, sugar
2 teaspoons nutmeg
3/4 teaspoons salt
- Combine apple juice and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice in a deep pot. Add peeled and chopped pears to the apple and lemon juice as they are chopped to avoid browning.
- Cook pears over medium heat until juices are released and can be brought to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pears are very tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and blend pears until smooth. I like to use a stick blender that you put directly into the pot, but a food processor, blender or food mill can be used, as well. Return the pear mixture back to the pot.
- In a skillet, heat the sugar, stirring frequently until it melts and turns an amber color. Being very careful, pour the caramelized sugar into the pear mixture. This will produce a lot of sizzling and splattering, so be sure you have the pear mixture in a tall pot. The caramelized sugar will harden immediately upon contact with the pear mixture, but will dissolve with stirring.
- Add nutmeg, salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons lemon to the pear mixture.
- Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning until pear butter has thickened to the desired consistency. Cooking time will vary depending on juiciness of pears, the size of your pot, and if you halved or doubled the recipe.
- Turn off the heat, and fill sterile jars. Wipe rims and apply lids and bands. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water, and let cool on the counter for at least 2 hours. Check lids for a proper seal. Can be store for up to one year.
Pear butter after the addition of caramelized sugar.