Stirring Loves Company

November 7, 2007 at 10:15 am 15 comments

Jars for canning pear butter 

I’m a bit quirky.  And evidently so are a few of my friends.  For fun this past Saturday, I had Taylor and Christine over for a “party” with the sole entertainment being the making of pear butter.   The idea of standing over a stove for an hour, stirring pear pulp into buttery submission, seemed like a good group activity…otherwise I’d just be talking to the cat and she’d likely walk out on me after the first five minutes, leaving me with just the wall and the occasional fruit fly that had gathered in anticipation of honing in on my pears.  Really, I needed better company than that. 

Asian Pears about to be buttered

I also kind of anticipated it being a lot more work than it was, which it might have been had I been making a massive batch.  But the process proved to be ridiculously easy, even if the cooking part was a tad time consuming.  No matter – we did what girls do best, sitting around and chatting about boys, life and recipe ideas.   Time with my ladies is always therapeutic, and I gotta say I’m lucky I’ve got such a great gaggle of them in my life. 

Christine using the food mill to process the cooked pears

Christine and Taylor were both great sports for the photographs accompanying this post.  What lovely hands they both have!   And Taylor’s surely got a second career brewing as a food stylist if the outstanding finished product shots are any indication.  I should exploit my friend more often.

Local honey and a lemon

Seriously though, making the pear butter together was the perfect demonstration of my shifting priorities in the kitchen since getting more “involved” with my food via this blog and the farm.   It’s been said many times before by folks much more eloquent than myself, but food is really meant to be a social affair, not merely a utilitarian task.  As humans, we bond over the preparation and sharing of meals.  In doing such, we share traditions, ideas, stories, laughter, and occasionally sorrow.   

Pear pulp starting to cook down Jars of pear butter in boiling water bath to seal

I was talking with Marisa the other day about the culture of potlucks, and she told me about Indian culture not having potlucks so much as “cook-ins” where people come over to your house to help cook for an event instead of bringing their own prepared dish.  I love this idea of gathering to cook together – to share both the labors and the rewards while nourishing the body and soul.  Eating local allows for greater opportunities to connect with the growers.  But I want to take it one step further and connect with my community - be it friends, family, neighbors, bloggers, or total strangers - over these locally grown products as they pass from kitchen to table. 

Taylor ladles pear butter into jars

Of course, cooking in such a collective manner usually requires more time and more coordination.  But why not have friends over for a dinner of locally grown food just one night this week?  Or maybe next week instead (heck, it is Wednesday already)?  Or why not invite some of the gang over to make pear butter yourselves?  If you adore North Star Orchard or another local orchard’s Asian pears the way I do, you’ll be glad you did later this winter when you’re still savoring their sweet flavor.  And, no, for all my preaching about sharing your food, I’m not giving you any of mine!! 

Tower of Pear butter

Honeyed Asian Pear Butter
Compiled from several online sources

6 lb. of ripe Asian pears
3/4 c. mild honey (clover works well)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

Wash pears before coring and quartering them.  Place in a large pot with enough water to just cover the bottom – about 1/3 of a cup.  Cook over medium heat, being sure to check occasionally to see that they aren’t scorching, until pears of soft – about 30 minutes.   Place cooked pears in a food mill and extract as much puree as possible. 

Measure out two quarts of puree and place in a heavy saucepan.  Stir in honey, nutmeg and lemon zest and juice.  Cook over medium to low heat until thickened and greatly reduced.  This process can take up to an hour or more and requires frequent stirring so be prepared to be tending the stove for a bit.  You can also cook it in a crock-pot if desired. 

Pear butter is ready when a spoonful is placed on a plate and no liquid oozes out.   Once ready, remove pear butter from heat and place in sterialized jars for canning.  Leave about 1/8 inch of headspace between pear butter and the jar rims.  Wipe rims clean and cover with canning flats/lids that have just been removed from boiling water.  Screw on rings to hold lids in place and then submerge jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove from water and let stand to cool.  Check lids to makes sure they have sealed and store any that haven’t in the refrigerator.  Click here for more canning 101.

(makes 4+ cups)

Honeyed Asian Pear Butter on Toast

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Entry filed under: Preserves, Recipes, Sweet Treats. Tags: .

Yikes! Mishmashed

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. taylor  |  November 7, 2007 at 11:50 am

    I already cracked into my jar, and it’s delish!

    I have this HUGE muscle in my hand between my thumb and index finger that’s popping out! (Sometimes, at parties, I let people feel it.)

    Reply
  • 2. VegeYum  |  November 7, 2007 at 11:57 am

    This looks real amazing. Is the canning part of it necessary?

    Reply
  • 3. Jennie  |  November 7, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Egggcellent! Hey, I just realized, I forgot to add your tower of pear butter shot! I was sure I put it in there but it’s not so let me do that now – it was my favorite and it must be shared! As for your freakishly muscular hands, where were they when I was trying to open *my* jar of pear butter!?!? Good lord, that lid just didn’t want to budge. :)

    Reply
  • 4. Jennie  |  November 7, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    VegeYum – if you’re only going to make a small batch (which really it will be unless you’re doubling the recipe, you could easily store it in the fridge and skip the canning part. The canning’s only necessary if you want to store it at room temp for a long period of time.

    Reply
  • 5. Christine  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    You know, funny you mention it. I had just been thinking that if my legal career doesn’t work out, I might try for hand modeling. You know I love QVC ;)

    Pear-butter-ing was totally fun and I can’t wait to try mine!

    Reply
  • 6. Jennie  |  November 8, 2007 at 7:26 am

    You crack me up, Christine! I think there’s some real potential there though! :)

    Reply
  • 7. Jill  |  November 10, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Looks yummy and those jars are just too stinkin’ cute. Did you peel the pears before cooking?

    Reply
  • 8. Jennie  |  November 10, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Thanks, Jill! Nope, didn’t need to peel the pears first since we were putting them through a food mill after they cooked. However, if you don’t have a food mill, you could peel the pears before cooking and then just use a blender or food processor to puree the pears once cooked.

    Reply
  • 9. SteamyKitchen  |  November 11, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Great idea to use asian pears! Love the cute jars…

    Reply
  • 10. pleasurepalate  |  November 11, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Oh my gosh, your honeyed pear butter looks amazing! I’m so jealous, I wouldn’t mind a pat of that on my toast right now. :)

    Reply
  • 11. Jennie  |  November 12, 2007 at 7:16 am

    Thanks SteamyKitchen and PleasurePalate! Glad you both enjoyed the post. :)

    Reply
  • 12. Good to Go « Straight from the Farm  |  December 4, 2007 at 9:56 am

    [...] local cheddar from HillAcres Pride, a few slices of soy bacon, and a very generous slather of the pear butter I’d put up with my gal pals earlier this [...]

    Reply
  • 13. My List « Straight from the Farm  |  October 9, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    [...] cook with these pears though.  Why cook them when they’re already perfect fresh?  I tried making pear butter with them last year though and found that while it was good, it wasn’t any better than eating them [...]

    Reply
  • 14. Gaia  |  November 15, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Love your recipe and style too. I just finished peeling about 40 pounds of a wild asian pears I discovered in a cow pasture by a creek. Absolutely organic I’m sure. The peels just seemed so coarse. I couldn’t imagine them turning all soft and buttery. I’m feeling pretty silly right now. There’s still a couple grocery bagfulls hangin on like Christmas tree ornaments. I will definitely not be peeling the next batch.

    Oh, yes, one comment on the recipe: I get the impression from from reading it, that it may take an hour or more… Anyone who expects to have thick dark pear butter will have to wait much, much longer. It takes me about 12 hours to get it down to the dark buttery concentrate that I like.

    Reply
  • 15. Joel  |  October 9, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Nice recipe! However, I found the addition of honey to be far too dominating for the delicate flavors of asian pear. Next time I’ll try it with less sweetener.

    Reply

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