When Life Gives You Pears

Well, in my case it was actually my sister that gave me the pears. Not just a few to snack on. No, not just a bag full. Her pear tree was overflowing, so last weekend she sent me home toting a 20 pound box of pears.

Several of the pears were super ripe, bruised and battered, so when I stumbled upon this pear butter recipe, I immediately knew I should give it a go. The riper the better, the recipe said. It also had the word easy in the title, and since it would be the first time I’d attempted making a fruit butter on my own, the easier the better.

Verdict? Despite a bit of prep time, it was fairly simple to make, and the end result is sweet and delicious!

Homemade Pear Butter
from Farmgirl Fare

Makes 1½ to 2 cups – Recipe may be doubled or tripled

3 pounds very ripe organic pears
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar (can use honey in place of sugar)
A dash of ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground nutmeg
A pinch of ginger powder
A dash of vanilla

Heat the oven to 300°.

Cut the pears into large chunks, removing any bad spots (no need to peel and core unless your pears aren’t very soft).

Press the pears through a food mill or china cap/chinois into a large bowl. You should end up with about 4 cups of smooth pear purée.

Stir in the lemon juice and sugar. Pour the purée into a nonreactive (stainless steel, ceramic, or enamel coated) pan, such as a 9×13 inch Corningware baking dish (or a large stainless steel roasting pan for larger batches) and let it cook, stirring every 30 minutes with a wooden spoon, until it is the desired thickness, about 2 to 2½ hours. Start taste testing after 1½ hours. Remember that it will thicken slightly as it cools.

Let the pear butter cool and store it in an airtight dish or jar in the refrigerator. The jars should stay good in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks. (you can also process and seal using a traditional water-bath canning method)

The most obvious use of the spread is at breakfast on toast or warm biscuits, but I’ve also discovered a very tasty snack: a thin slice of sharp cheddar cheese and a smear of pear butter on thin wheat crackers. Yum!

However, the most creative and possibly my favorite use for it has been this grilled cheese sandwich:

Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto, Pear Butter and Arugula
(I tried several kinds of cheeses and found that I prefer fontina or manchego best)

Of course it’s also great on homemade bread, particularly bread made with more fresh pears! When I mentioned on Twitter that I was trying to figure out what else to do with all my pears, a few people offered up advice. Mandy’s was the one that caught my eye because it was different…a mixture of pears and cheese in bread? Yes sir. It works.

Pear Cheese Bread
adapted from Eat Better America

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups shredded pears
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (2 oz)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or two 7×31/2×2-inch loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine pears, sugar, egg, oil, buttermilk, honey, and vanilla. Add pear mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in cheese. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 minutes (45 to 50 minutes for the smaller pans) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Photo credit: Fresh Juicy Pears by david.nikonvscanon