Preserve the Harvest Series presents a new fruit or vegetable every Tuesday with the goal of helping you get the most out of fresh fruits and vegetables harvested during peak season. Whether you grow your own fruits and vegetables, buy them at the Farmer’s Market or your local grocery store, it is good to remember the best time to preserve your bounty is when it is plentiful. Preserving the harvest stocks your pantry shelves and freezer with whole foods that you can feel good about, foods that taste great, and this approach saves you money. A sane approach to sustainability! Next up…pears and Spiced Ginger Pear Butter.
LET’S TALK PEARS
WHEN TO BUY PEARS
The best time to buy pears is late August through October depending on the area you live in. Warmer climates will have pears available earlier and cooler climates have pears that mature later in the season.
WHERE TO BUY PEARS
When buying pears it is best to buy local. The best tasting pears are those that have been picked prior to maturity. Pears that have been left to ripen too long on a tree tend to be grainy and/or mushy. Just the opposite of most fruits where staying on the tree until maturity is more beneficial.
HOW TO CHOOSE PEARS
Pears are the one fruit that tastes better when picked prior to maturity. Pears ripen from the inside out, if your pear is soft on the outside it is already too ripe. To tell if a pear is ripe, gently apply pressure at the edge of the stem. If the pear gives slightly it is partially ripe and perfect for poaching, roasting and baking. If the area easily yields to pressure but doesn’t feel mushy it is ready to eat or puree into sauces.
Pears should also be pleasantly aromatic with a fresh sweet smell. Organic pears will have the best taste.
Store pears at room temperature until ripe. To hasten ripening place in a paper bag or leave in a cool place covered with a towel. Once ripened, place in the refrigerator where the pears will keep for up to a week.
Pears lend themselves well to canning, freezing, drying, and making wonderful butters. When freezing it is best to use pears that are partially ripened and still firm.
Spiced Ginger Pear Butter is a wonderful spread to have around. Much like apple butter it can be used as a spread on biscuits or toast, a filling for a tart or an accompaniment for savory meat dishes. I also like to use it with chicken or turkey on sandwiches for a gourmet twist. No matter how you choose to spread it, the spiced ginger flavor is sure to be a favorite.
- 5 cups pears, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp chopped candied ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 1 inch pieces
- 4 whole cloves
- Place sliced pears and 1 cup water into non reactive medium sized pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until pears have softened.
- With stick blender, (or food processors) blend pears until smooth.
- Measure puree and return to pan.
- For each cup of puree add 1¼ cups sugar.
- Place cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a spice bag or tied into cheesecloth and add to puree mixture.
- Return mixture to boil, reduce heat and simmer until mixture is thickened, stirring as needed to prevent sticking. (this may take 1-2 hours)
- Once thickened, remove spice bag.
- Ladle into hot sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.
- Makes about 3 cups.
Recipe adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round
SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED
- Water Bath Canner
- Pint Jars with Lids and Bands
- Utensil Set – Not absolutely necessary, but makes the job of canning a whole lot easier.
The following recipe is processed using a water bath canning process. If you have never canned before or need a refresher the National Center for Home Food Preservation is the gold standard of information. I would encourage you to head over and read their general canning information.
Resources: The Splendid Table: When to Buy Pears
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