Monday, November 15, 2010

Pear Butter with Orange and Vanilla

Like its more well-known apple alternative, this pear butter has an almost creamy texture, smooth and spicy.  This version is flavored with orange and vanilla, but there are many different spins you could put on the same basic recipe.  Try this version or try changing up the flavoring with cardamom or fennel.  Regardless, it will be delicious on a warm buttermilk biscuit this winter.  
-4 lbs pears, cored and cut in chunks
-2 c sugar
-juice and grated zest of one orange
-1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
-1/4 tsp nutmeg

->  Put pears in a large pot with about one inch of water in the bottom.  Cook until pears are soft then put through a sieve or a food mill.  

Return to pot.  Add sugar, orange zest and juice, vanilla (or vanilla bean), and nutmeg.  Simmer over medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently.  Remove vanilla bean if using.  

Spoon into sterilized jars.  Remove air bubbles and seal with lids and rings.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  
*~TIP:  For printable labels, check out this website or make your own and then print them on sticky labels.  *~

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pear-Lime Jam with Ginger

This fresh and spicy pear jam will be something to use on more than just toast this winter.  This is a really simple recipe without any special ingredients.  The pears and sugar will thicken enough on their own without the need for any added pectin, making the whole process a lot more simple and less technical.  Try out the recipe below and either can it to use it all winter long or store it in the fridge to use within a couple of weeks.  I'll also be giving away jars for the holidays!  
-5 1/2 c pears, cored and chopped finely
-2 c sugar
-1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated
-juice and zest of 3 limes.  

->  Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer until thickened.  (It's that easy).  

If canning, pour into sterilized jars, seal with lids and process in a hot water bath.  
*~TIP:  To see if your jellies and jams are thickened enough, there are all kinds of tests you can perform.  I usually just put a little dab on a plate, and stick it in the fridge for a minute.  If it's the consistency I want after it's cooled, then I'm ready to stop cooking and start canning.  *~

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pears Mulled in Red Wine

For another twist on pears canned in plain sugar syrup, try mulling your pears in red wine with sugar and mulling spices.  Similar to the vodka pears, these pears and their syrup have all kinds of uses for this winter.  Serve them on their own as you would poached pears.  Add to a winter fruit compote, serve over ice cream, make a delicious holiday drink out of them and/or their syrup, or float them in your favorite holiday punch.  
-pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
-mulling spices (cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice berries)
-1 bottle red wine
-1/2 c sugar

->  Pack pears into sterilized jars with mulling spices (one cinnamon stick, and 3-4 cloves and/or allspice berries).

Heat wine and sugar over medium heat in a medium saucepan until sugar is dissolved and wine is almost at boiling point.

Pour over pears packed in sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space.  Remove any air bubbles, place lids on , and screw on screw bands.  Process in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes at 6 lbs of pressure.
~*TIP:  Don't use a wine to can with that you wouldn't drink on its own.  If you don't like the flavor before you sweeten and spice it, chances are you won't like it after either.  *~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Herbed Vanilla Vodka Pears

This recipe puts a new intoxicating spin on plain pears canned in a sugar syrup.  Pears are packed in jars with either fresh basil or lemon balm from the garden.  Then, the traditional light sugar syrup is combined with vanilla flavored vodka before pouring over the pears.  The inclusion of fresh herbs will hopefully add an interesting flavor twist while providing a burst of summer flavor this winter.  When it's time to crack open a jar of these pears, the pears will be delicious in a winter fruit compote, over ice cream, or perhaps at the bottom of a pear upside-down cake.  The syrup could be used in cocktails, reduced to drizzle over that same ice cream or as a glaze to be soaked up by that pear upside-down cake.  Nothing goes to waste here.  

- Pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
-Fresh herbs such as lemon balm and basil
-1/2 Sugar
-1 c Vanilla vodka

->  Pack pear quarters and herbs into sterilized jars.  

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar with 4 cups of water  for a very light syrup (add more sugar if desired).  Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and add vodka.  

Pour over pears in sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space.  Remove any air bubbles.  Attach lids and screw bands to jars.  Process in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes at 6 lbs of pressure.  
~*TIP:  Tap jars on the counter and use a butter knife to release visible air bubbles in the jars before sealing.  *~

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pears in Light Syrup

This is a simple and classic canning recipe and method for canning lots of pears quickly and easily for use later all through the winter.  The taste of pears canned in a simple syrup may bring back memories from childhood fruit cups, but they provide a useful basic backdrop for the addition of many new and different flavor combinations that will carry you into adulthood.  Today's post will cover the basic recipe and method, but posts later this week will provide a couple of adult twists on a childhood treat.  
-Pears, peeled, cored, and quartered

How much sugar to water (in cups)?
Just Water, No Sugar
Very Light Syrup = 1:7 sugar to water ratio
Light Syrup = 1:3 sugar to water ratio 
Medium Syrup = 1:2 sugar to water ratio
Heavy Syrup = out of control.

->  Pack pear slices into sterilized jars.  

Heat water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and liquid is almost to boiling point. 

Pour over pears in sterilized jars. leaving 1/2 inch of head space.  Remove any air bubbles and seal with lids and screw bands.  Process in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes at 6 lbs of pressure.  

*~TIP:  One way to sterilize canning jars that beats boiling them all on the stove top is to use your dishwasher.  Load only canning jars into your dishwasher.  Run your dishwasher's normal cycle.  Use immediately when the cycle completes.  Your dishwasher will reach a temperature hot enough to sterilize your jars.  *~

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spiced Pear Sauce

For the spiced pear sauce, I used the same basic recipe, and then spiced it in two different ways.  The first is a more traditional cinnamon pear sauce, and the second is a spicy ginger pear sauce.  Both are about the consistency of a slightly chunky applesauce but with a unique pear flavor and texture.  Make and eat right away or can for later.  
-about 3 lbs of pears
-about 1/2 c honey
-about 1 Tbsp cinnamon and/or about 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced

->  Wash pears thoroughly.  Trim away blemishes, but leave the skin on for more color and flavor in this recipe.  No need to peel if you don't have to.  Core and cut into large chunks.  

Drain from soaking water (seek TIP below), and add to a large pot with about one inch of water to keep the pears from scorching.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until tender, stirring occasionally.  Put pears through a food mill (you could use a food processor if you don't have a food mill, but i prefer the texture the food mill gives the final product).  

Put the milled pear sauce back into the pot (or into two separate pots if making two differently-spiced sauces).  Add honey to taste, about 1/2 c.  Add cinnamon to one batch and ginger to the other.  Heat sauce(s) just up to the boiling point.  

Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.  Remove any air bubbles.  Fasten with lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath.  
~*TIP:  For any of the pear recipes to come, keeping the pears  in salted water while they await the cooking pot will keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.  *~

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week of Pears!

My friend Genna and I picked all of these pears (see below) from an old pear tree behind a farmhouse where her boyfriend lives.  So many pears!  
We spent an entire Sunday peeling, slicing, and canning pears in all different forms (see below).  
For the next week, I'll be posting all of the recipes that came out of this abundance of pears...