Pear ButterFebruary 26, 2016
Courses: Side Dishes Cuisines: Breakfast & Brunch/Fruit/Grain-Free/Gluten-Free/Vegetables / Vegetarian
When the temperature drops below freezing, and the snow has been falling for hours (or days!), there's no better way to help make the house feel warm and cozy than having the sweet smells of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg waft through your home. Fruit butter (apple butter, pear butter and the like) takes hours of slow simmering on the stove. It also needs to be stirred every 15-20 minutes or so, so it doesn't get stuck on the bottom of the pot. So when you are staying at home on a snowy day, or just staying at home "because" - that is the time to make this deliciously fragrant and silky pear butter. The original recipe is from my brother, Ari M. Sobel. Ari is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef extraordinaire! I have adapted the recipe and made some changes that suit my tastes. It's very flexible. You can use whatever fruit you like: apples, pears, a combination of the two. Or, in the summer, use plums, nectarines, peaches. You can add strawberries or blueberries. You can use all the spices I've added, or just cinnamon - or leave them out entirely. Use your imagination!
- 15 pears I usually use 5 each of three different varieties
- 3-4 Granny Smith apples
- 3 pints strawberries
- 1 lemon sometimes you might need a little more, this is also
- ½ cup apple cider or apple juice or cranberry juice
- 3 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½-1 ½ cups Grade A natural maple syrup the amount of syrup will depend on the sweetness of the fruit
- 8-quart heavy bottom stockpot the <strong>heavy bottom</strong> is crucial, otherwise the fruit will burn
- immersion blender (aka 'stick blender') If you don't have one, you can use a regular blender. But I use my immersion blender for making soups, sauces and I find it INDISPENSABLE!
- food mill If you don't have one, you can use a fine meshed strainer and the back of a wooden spoon.
- Wash pears and apples. Core them. Cut into large chunks. Place in stock pot. (no need to peel them).
- Wash strawberries, hull them. Cut them in half and add them to the pot with the pears and apples.
- Add ½ cup juice. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO ADD MORE JUICE. The fruit will release LOTS OF JUICE as it cooks.
- Add 3 cinnamon sticks.
- Turn heat on MEDIUM-LOW.
- Cook for 2 hours, UNCOVERED, stirring every 10-20 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. In the photo, you can see what it looks like after it's been cooking for one hour. Note all the juice that's been released by the fruit.
- After 2 hours, remove the cinnamon sticks from the pot (reserve them in a small dish). Carefully place the immersion blender all the way into the pot and blend all the fruit until smooth.
- Replace the cinnamon sticks back into the pot.
- Add all of the spices to the fruit in the pot.
- Continue cooking, UNCOVERED, for another 2 hours.
- Juice the lemon and add to the fruit in the pot.
- Add ½ cup maple syrup. Taste. If not sweet enough, add more maple syrup, 1/4 cup at a time. DO NOT OVER-SWEETEN. The pear butter will become more sweet as it reduces. You can always add more maple syrup at the end.
- Continue to cook (and stir) 2-4 more hours. Keep stirring every 20 minutes or so. Until the fruit mixture is reduced to less than half of what it was originally. (See photo.)
- Turn off stove and remove pot.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks.
- Let cool for a short while.
- Taste. If needed, add more lemon juice or maple syrup or spices (adjust according to your own tastes. Word of caution - do not add too much maple syrup).
- Either pass all of the blended fruit through a food mill with the smallest-holed disc in place; OR, place in a fine-meshed sieve and press down with the back of a large spoon. (You might be tempted to skip this step, but it really does remove all the unnecessary "stuff" and helps make your fruit butter silky and smooth.)
- Pour into covered containers and refrigerate. (Will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.)
- Serve with yogurt, or eat on toast, or as a side for chicken, fish or turkey. Eat with ice cream. Or, just eat plain "as is!"
Best to buy the pears several days ahead to let them sit on the counter. You want them really ripe. (Not brown, but soft).