- a thing to eat on bread
Makes about 2 cups spread.
This spread is the very essence of ripe pears, with a texture rather like very thick apple sauce.
- 1 heavy bottomed pot that holds about 2 quarts, preferably enamel or other non-reactive lining. I use an enameled cast-iron pot to very good effect.
- Something heat resistant with which to stir. A wooden spoon with a flat tip or paddle, or heat resistant rubber spatula is ideal.
Coat the pears with the lemon juice as you prepare them to prevent browning. It is easiest to squeeze the lemon juice directly into the pot and add the pear quarters as they are cored. Place all of the remaining ingredients into the pot.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the juice has reduced. Pears have an interesting habit of cooking without disintegrating. Even the ripest pear will only dull around the edges from stirring or perhaps break into two pieces, but it will not collapse as apples do. Therefore, simmer the fruit until the juices are thick and syrupy. Then, take your stirring implement and mash the fruit into a relatively smooth paste. If the pears are ripe, this should be very easy. In fact, if the pears are very ripe, you should be able to mash them immediately. However, don’t. Wait until the juices have thickened. If you break up the pears too soon, you will have to watch more carefully to prevent scorching.
After mashing, continue to cook it, stirring frequently, to evaporate any excess liquid. When it has become a translucent gold color and has thickened, it is done. No juices will pool when you scrape across the bottom of the pot, and the sauce will not close up completely over the clear spot.
Decant and can if desired. This is another fantastic spread on crusty bread with butter or a soft, ripened cheese.
Regarding the sugar quantities - It is best to use the lesser quantity, and taste the sauce as it nears completion. If it is not sweet enough, add additional sugar until it suits your taste. Keep in mind, however, that the pear butter will become sweeter as the liquid evaporates.
Regarding choosing Bartlett pears – Use only ripe or overripe fruit for this recipe for the most intense pear flavor, as well as ease of cooking. Under-ripe pears will take much longer to cook, and will not be as fragrant. If you absolutely must use an under-ripe pear, dice it to cut down on the cooking time. To ensure ripe fruit, purchase the pears up to a week before you will be using them, and keep them in a cool spot. Ripe fruit will be translucent yellow, smell strongly of pear, and will be very tender. Do not squeeze the ripe fruit as they bruise easily. Brown marks on the skin from handling is normal and fine for this purpose as long as the fruit is not deeply bruised or discolored.
Proquar says re pear butter: I've just finished making a batch for the hospital fete... excellent!