Make a small-batch ginger pear butter: this smooth pear preserve with a tang of ginger is excellent with toast or scones, would be perfect with gingerbread, and delightful with shards of chocolate in an autumn crostata. The only word that properly describes it is a ‘butter’ – it has the mouthfeel of apple butter, but the taste of gingery pears.
I like to cook the fruit quickly to highlight its fresh taste. I use sugar to draw juice from the pears, add lemon juice and a bit of chopped candied ginger, cook the resulting mixture, and then purée it with an immersion blender. Like all small batches, this goes together quickly.
I like to use my favorite 4-qt pot for this, it’s certainly big enough for a small batch of jam.
Can it in a waterbath, or use the newer steam canner: either way, process time is only 10 minutes.
Small-Batch Ginger-Pear Butter
- scant 3 lbs ripe pears, unpeeled
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp finely minced crystallized ginger
- 1 tiny pat unsalted butter (optional, but helps with texture)
- Pears with slight bruising are okay to use, but cut out any dark brown bits. Rinse the pears well, but don’t bother peeling them. Cut into quarters; remove and discard the cores.
- Cut into small pieces – I had a bit more than 2½ pounds of chopped pears – and put them in a heavy-bottomed pot. (I used my favorite 4 qt pot, which was perfect for the task.) Add the sugar and lemon juice, then stir well, cover with a clean tea towel, and let stand 1 to 2 hours to bring the juice out of the fruit.
- Prepare 4 8-oz jars, bands, and lids. Put a saucer or small plate in your refrigerator to chill (this will be for testing doneness.) Have an extra small jar, or custard cup, clean and ready for any excess.
- When you’re ready for the cooking – you’ll need 45 – 60 minutes, no more – add the candied ginger and a tiny pat of butter, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until the fruit is translucent and cooked through. The smaller the pieces are, the faster this goes.
- When the fruit is all soft and tender, remove the pot from the heat and whiz the mixture with an immersion blender to make a smooth puree.
- Return the pot to the heat, and bring it back to a boil, then simmer on low heat. Stir often: it is easy to burn if the burner is set too high. Cook until thick and gloppy.
- Test for doneness by putting a spoonful on a saucer, and chilling it in the refrigerator for 2 minutes. After that time, if you can drag your finger through the fruit butter, and leave a clear track that doesn’t fill in again, it’s ready. Ladle the mixture into prepared jars, wipe rims, and apply lids and bands.
- Anything that won’t fit in your four jars can go into the clean custard cup. Chill it in the fridge: this is perfect with yogurt or on toast for breakfast!
- Seal the jars in waterbath or steam canner, process 10 minutes.