SHF: Spiced Pear Preserves

If you have a well-producing fruit tree in your yard, you’ll relate to my current state of mind about pears. I LOVE pears. I love them fresh, slurped out of a spoon, cooked up in a tart, or a muffin or frozen into ice cream. And right now, my pear tree is going bonkers. Everyday, I’m getting more and more pears. They are piling up and taking over my kitchen and I’m running out of ideas of what to do with them. Soon, despite my love, I’ll be sick to death of their sight. And then, one day a couple of weeks from now, they will be all gone, and I’ll be sad that they are all over!

But, thanks to a little inspiration from Sugar High Friday, I’ll have some tucked away for later. I was so excited when I saw that Nicky of the most beautiful Delicious Days blog had chosen canning for the theme this month. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never canned anything. I just hadn’t gotten up the gumption to get over my fear of poisoning everyone if I got the whole canning process wrong. It just seemed more exacting and complex than my haphazard cooking skills could allow.

However, I’m thrilled to say that I was wrong. Yes, you have to boil water and make sure that you sterilize everything well… but the beauty of the canning tops is that you know if you’ve gotten it right! If you don’t have a good seal, the lid won’t lie completely flat. How easy is that!

So, with canning under my belt and pears by the pot load, I made up some pear preserves. My first jam attempts I didn’t have any pectin so I piled on the sugar. It made for a set, edible concoction… but too sweet for my tastes. Using pectin means you can sweeten to taste… and my pears were pretty sweet already so didn’t need much. To give the preserves a bit more of an interesting flavor, I added cloves and black pepper to the mix. The result is a lightly sweet, warm-tasting spread, almost like a bite of pear pie. There’s just a tiny bit of heat from the peppercorns, not enough to be spicy but just enough to feel it in the back of your throat.

True to form on my recipe though, I didn’t do a particularly good job at measuring anything. My rough recipe combines pears (cored and peeled), lemon juice, cane sugar, pectin, whole cloves and whole peppercorns. Boil it all up rapidly until the pears are beginning to lose their form, then can them up after properly sterilizing the jars. The pectin will help it set without a lot of fuss.

I served mine up with a wonderful walnut bread that I got from Amy of Cooking with Amy on her recent trip up to Seattle. (Thanks Amy!) Paired with the bread and some goat cheese from the Sea Breeze farm on Vashon Island, it’s a great little treat… I can’t wait to pop open another jar late in the fall to bring back the memories of summer.

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  • http://www.insanitytheory.net/kitchenwench Ellie

    What a wonderful idea! I’m drooling over your spiced pear preserves, and especially loving that picture of the preserve spread on a slice of walnut bread with the goats cheese next to it!

  • http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/ peabody

    Mmm, those preserves would go great with some cheese.
    Looks wonderful.

  • http://web.mac.com/tannajones Tanna

    That is so wonderful – wish I could help with all the pears. I love the idea of the pepper; cloves are a natural.

  • http://maegabriel.com/riceandnoodles Mae

    Oh, how lovely! I haven’t tried preserving just as yet. You know, i love preserved pears with pan fried chicken livers with some helping of blue cheese! A dish i often order at my new fav restaurant. Yummy!

    The photos look so clean and fresh. Stunning!

  • http://www.beaskitchen.com/blog Bea at La Tartine Gourmande

    Just adorable photos. Light and airy. I wish I could get a spoon out of the screen. C’est pas possible, ca ?

  • http://musicandcats.com/ Kimberly

    Oh, how lucky you are to have a pear tree! I’m surprised that your pears are ripe now; the pears I see on the trees in my Seattle neighborhood still look quite green.

    And congrats on your first preserves; they look beautiful. Pear preserves are a favorite of mine; I make them with finely chopped crystallized ginger, which creates wonderful little sweet-hot spots in the preserves.

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Thanks all! I’ve been amazed at all the SHF jams I’ve seen coming in… they are all so beautiful.

    Kimberley – Yes, it seems a bit early to me too.. but one thing about pears is that they fall off the tree before they are actually ripe. So, as soon as you start seeing a bunch on the ground, it’s time to pick even though they are green. They ripen off tree deliciously in just a few days.

  • http://www.thepassionatecook.com johanna

    ansolutely LOVE your pictures… just came across your site through SHF and will surely step by more regularly from now on – great job!

  • http://www.mekuno.net Faith

    Mmmm. The combination with the walnut bread really got to me. Will be thinking about this. I share your fear of botulism – I fantasize about making preserves for Christmas gifts and then stop short at the next thought of everyone getting very sick. This event didn’t quite push me over the edge, but maybe soon, maybe soon…

    Thanks for the link – that looks helpful.

  • http://www.tastinglife-julia.blogspot.com Julia

    ooo, I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m so jealous!!! Your own pear tree…
    As well very stunning photos! (Ha, those will of course also last longer…!) =)
    I once had in a little bistro an absolutely luscious pear cake – very simple, slightly moist and tender but with an overwhelmingly strong, sweet taste of pears.
    Maybe a nice experiment for your pear stacks if you’ve ran out of ideas?? =)

  • http://teaandcookies.blogspot.com Tea

    What gorgeous photos!!!

  • http://gourmandisesco.blogspot.com Cat

    I love the pictures and i love the idea of pears preserve!!!

  • http://ilovemilkandcookies.blogspot.com jenjen

    Lara, I just love how you style all your food. You just have an amazing flair.

    This preserve sounds great I wanted to make something with pears for SHF, but was a bit scared, as i’ve never jammed anything, so I stuck to easier fruits. But you have made it look quite acievable, I think I will give this a try.

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Hi Johanna – Thanks! What a fun event to participate in.

    Faith – yes, the walnut bread was delicious. I need to make my own sometime. And trust me, it’s easier than you think to get the whole canning thing done right! If I can do it, I’m sure you can too!

    Julia – oh, pear cake sounds fantastic! Thanks for the idea!

    Tea – Thank you!

    Cat – thanks!

    Jenjen – Thanks so much! BTW – I LOVE your cinnamon roll photos! They are so delicious looking!

  • http://www.thegodlenshrimp.blogspot.com Eva

    Sounds like a great jam, and I’m so jealous of your pear tree. If you’re ever stuck for anything else to make, Pear liqeur is really nice. Just use equal volumes/weight of fruit, sugar and a strong alcohol….and you can make some really nice cakes with them (http://thegoldenshrimp.blogspot.com/2006/04/liquor-used-at-long-last.html)

  • http://scrumptious.typepad.com stephanie

    The thought of adding whole peppercorns is fantastic, I’m going to give this a try this fall. Now that it’s height of farmer’s markets in New York. Gorgeous idea. Will give tribute to you on my own blog. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.cookandeat.com/ L

    Hi Eva – Pear liqeur does sound nice. Thanks!

    Setphanie – You bet! Hope it turns out well for you!

  • http://www.cafefernando.com Cenk

    Amazing photos. Do you sell? :)
    I just posted about making peach jam and had such a hard time with the composition and photographing the jar that I had to use only the photo with the jam spread on the bread. I wish I had seen your post to get inspired before my mini photo shoot.

  • http://underwaterdiaries.blogspot.com/ Jesska

    I just made pear jam for the first time with freezer jam pectin. I also included ground cloves, cinnamon and pure vanilla extract. When I mashed the cooked pears, I left them rather chunky and they resembled chunky applesauce. The family is RAVING, and I officially have the canning bug. I’m going to try and make mango jam this weekend…wish me luck! :) Beautiful photos!

  • http://spicedpears mai patterson

    Spiced pear preserves sound so good I just bought canning jars and am about to begin canning. I saw my mother can when I was a child but have never attempted this task before. After reading this recipe I decided that this year’s crop from our country pear trees will become spiced pear preserves. Wish me luck!

  • Mary

    I wish I could find the recipe my mother used many, many years ago. There was a big pear tree in the back yard next door, and a lot of the pears fell in our yard. We fought off the wasps (don’t ever go barefooted when pears are on the ground), and picked up the good ones. Mother’s pear preserves were sort of brownish, and were in slices. They were so good, especially on her biscuits! Does anyone have this old fashioned recipe. I don’t want to can them, just put in refrigerator. Thanks, Mary

  • Mary Kay

    Mary, I found a recipe but haven’t tried it. I got it at http://ncfolk.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/pear-preserves/

    The description sounds like what I remember eating when I was a teenager. They were brown, very firm and chewy. My neighbor who made them said she put the pears in her white enamel dishpan (that she used only for canning) with sugar and let them sit overnight, to pull moisture out of the pears. I assume she cooked them without adding more water.