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Vanilla-pear butter (and pearsauce!)

November 6, 2011

 

Ok guys, I’m ready for summer to be over.

Can you even believe that I just typed that? What I meant to say was, I’m ready for canning season to be over.

We’ve had this extremely long extended summer period in Portland. Every September, sure, people wander around the city, wondering at the continued heat. Which, of course, happens every year, and we never remember. This year, though, that continued on through the last week of October. People, I was harvesting and canning bumper loads of tomatoes right up to Halloween. And while I love me some sunshine, and those additional quarts of tomatoes will certainly be welcome in the middle of February, canning projects are feeling like the last straw. Everyday cooking is kind of falling to the sidelines. Last week, Lee took cake to class for lunch. Cake.

Which is all to say, I’m thankful for these last jars of pear butter and pearsauce, because they mean that I’m finally finished with 2011’s canning. And, this batch went out with a bang. Like, a literal bang, the kind you hear when one of your precious jars of sauce has exploded and spewed its pureed glory all over the inside of your canner. Ah, canning. I’ll see you again next May.

 

 

Pear Butter and Pearsauce

Adapted from Food in Jars. If you’re unfamiliar with canning, this blog is the place to start.

This is actually two recipes in one (score!). In the first part of the process, you cook and puree the pears, leaving you with a nice pearsauce (like an applesauce, but, pears!). Can half of it, and cook the other half down, add a vanilla bean, and you have vanilla-pear butter. Make sure your pears are ripe. I’m told this avoids the grittiness problem, although my butter still has a bit of that pebbly feeling to it. It’s certainly not enough to detract from the quality of the butter, but if it bothers you, feel free to strain it midway through cooking it down.

20 lbs pears
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
¼+ cup sugar

 

–       Wash pears, and cut them into quarters/chunks. I didn’t bother to peel mine, but if you’re a perfectionist about these things, peel away.
–       Deposit pears into a large (laaaaaarge!) pot, or maybe two. Add cup of water. Turn heat to medium(ish), cover, and simmer until the pears are tender and disintegrate when pressed with a spoon against the pan. Let them cool.
–       Puree, using either an immersion blender, or by pureeing in batches in a blender or food processor.

 

For pearsauce:
–       At this point, you have a nice, unsweetened pearsauce. I canned half of mine like this.
–       Taste. Feel free to add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, sugar, or honey. I added about a third of a cup of honey, and about a tablespoon of lemon juice, to brighten the flavor.
–       Sanitize jars by processing them in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
–       Bring applesauce to a boil. Ladle hot applesauce into the clean, hot jars. Leave ½ inch headspace. Apply lids and rings, and secure the rings tightly.
–       Process in a boiling water bath, 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.
–       Remove the jars, and let them cool overnight. Remember to check the seals; any jar that doesn’t seal must be re-processed, or put into the fridge for immediate use.

 

For pear butter:
–       Take the remaining half of your pureed pear, and return it to the pot (use the widest pot you have, to maximize the amount of surface area for evaporation). Cook this down over low heat, stirring every fifteen minutes or so.
–       While this is cooking down, split your vanilla bean, and remove the seeds. For ease, I worked them into a small amount of sugar. Around the two and a half hour mark, add the de-seeded vanilla bean to cooking butter, to steep.
–       When the butter reaches a nice, spreadable consistency (this took about four hours for me, but this will vary depending on the width of your pot, temperature of your stove, etc.), add the vanilla sugar, and stir. If your pears aren’t particularly sweet, or you like a sweeter butter, add more sugar, to taste.
–       Sanitize jars by processing them in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
–       Bring butter to “boil” (or something resembling it), stirring constantly and being sure to avoid being burned by popping bubbles. Remove the vanilla beans*. Ladle the butter into the clean, hot jars. Leave ¼ inch headspace. Apply lids and rings, and secure the rings tightly.
–       Process in a boiling water bath, 15 minutes for both half-pints and pints.
–       Remove the jars, and let them cool overnight. Remember to check the seals; any jar that doesn’t seal must be re-processed, or put into the fridge for immediate use.

 

*Pro tip: rinse and dry the vanilla beans, and use them to scent sugar, or make homemade vanilla extract.

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