It’s no secret that I love both pears and jam. Weirdly, though, I’ve never had pear jam and I’ve been jonesin’ to try some.
I’d bookmarked a bunch of different pear jam recipes, but when I went through them all nothing really jumped out as the right one. I didn’t have a vanilla bean, I didn’t want to caramelize them ahead of time, etc. So I decided to wing it and combine different elements with some common sense to make amazing, delicious pear jam.
The first thing I had to figure out was whether I had to use pectin. I’ve avoided that in my jam making so far, but in doing research I found out that pear is a low-pectin fruit (apples have tons) so I probably needed to use it. Luckily, it was way simpler than I expected. I also picked a great combination of spices—cinnamon, ginger, cardamom (great with pears), and almond extract. I used a combination of honey and brown sugar, but only a total of a cup for the entire batch. A lot of recipes called for SO much more sugar, but I don’t see why it would need it.
Jam is a great Sunday afternoon activity, because you can put a batch on and still be getting other things done while it cooks. You need to monitor occasionally, but it’s not a high-maintenance task. And once you make a batch, it’ll last you for a long time—I usually make a big batch and eat on it for 3-4 months (my go-to lunch is homemade peanut butter & jelly on whole grain bread).
After I filled all my jars, I had a few spoonfuls leftover, and had an amazing brainwave. I piled the jam on top of my freshly-baked molasses cookies. REVELATION. Seriously, the spices all went together so well, the textures were amazing, and the crunch of both the pears and the sugar on the cookies was like the embodiment of fall.
I told my mom about it and she goes, “That’s totally unnecessary, molasses cookies are great on their own*.” Me: “SO not the point. It’s so good!”
* True, they are amazing.
Cut the pears into quarters and cut the cores out, then slice into small, thin, even pieces. Place in a large pot and turn on medium-low.
Add a cup or so of the apple or pear juice, and all the spices, extracts, lemon juice, and honey.
Cook on medium-low until the pears soften, stirring occasionally. This process may take a while, depending on how soft your pears were to begin with. Mine were fairly firm and not very juicy, so this took a long time, but I just kept an eye on it while I did other things.
When your pears are soft enough (it’ll have been quite some time, at least 30 minutes), use a potato masher to break up the pieces into more of a pear mush, which will release more juices as well.
Add another cup of the apple juice, the pectin, and the brown sugar, and stir everything together. You can use an immersion blender to bring it to the right consistency as well (I blended it a little, but left some chunks because I like it that way).
Bring the mixture to a boil (it should have enough juice that it will boil) and continue boiling for two minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until it’s the right thickness, then remove from heat.
Pour or ladle into jars right away, close the jars, and turn upside down until it cools. This is the European method of canning, basically the heat on the lid seals it vs. doing the whole big canning process. It’s probably not a “last 20 years” method, but it’s worked great for everything I’ve done to-date. Once you’ve opened a jar, I’d try and use it within a month or so—I’ve had it last longer but that’s a fairly good rule of thumb.
Spiced Pear Jam
- 6 thin-skinned pears; I used Bartlett
- Pinch of salt
- Almond & vanilla extract
- Splash of lemon juice
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1-2 cups of apple juice (or pear juice), possibly more
- 1 packet of pectin
Core the pears and cut them into small, thin, even pieces. Place in a large pot and turn on medium-low. Add a cup or so of the apple or pear juice, and add all the spices, extracts, lemon juice, and honey. Cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until pears soften. This may take a while, depending on how soft your pears were to begin with.
After quite some time (at least 30 minutes) when your pears are soft enough, use a potato masher to break up the pieces into more of a mush, which also releases more of the juices. Add another cup of the apple juice, the pectin, and the brown sugar, and stir everything together. You can use an immersion blender to bring it to the right consistency as well. Bring to a boil and let it boil for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until it’s the right thickness, then remove from heat.
Pour or ladle into jars right away, close the jars, and turn upside down until it cools (the heat on the lid seals it the European way, though less long-lasting than true canning). Once you’ve opened a jar, try and use within a month.