Pear Butter. Pears simmered with apple juice, lemon juice and warm winter spices. Velvety smooth with a slightly tart, slightly sweet, intense pear flavor.
Pears are one of the few fruits I truly love to eat. I cook and bake daily with a wide variety of fruit, but I rarely sit down and eat it all by itself. Pears and Honeycrisp apples are the exception.
At my local supermarkets, I can buy Anjou, Red Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc pears. It’s enough of a variety to satisfy my baking needs, from a taste, texture and visual appeal standpoint.
Bosc Pears – Lovely orangish brown skin, tapered neck, curved stem. Gorgeous. Dense, hard flesh before they are ripe. Delightfully crisp, slightly juicy, gentle flavor and sweetness when ripe. Bosc pears are ideal for poaching, sautéing, caramelizing, or grilling; or any other application where you need the pear to retain its shape. French open style tarts are the perfect vehicle for Bosc pears.
Anjou Pears – Green or red in color, Anjou or D’Anjou pears are excellent pears to eat out of hand. They are crisp, sweet, and juicy with a mild flavor. In terms of cooking or baking, there is no discernable difference between red or green, other than their color. Anjou pears are suitable for poaching, excellent for most baking applications. Anjou pears are a nice choice for making pear butter.
Bartlett Pears – Delicious out of hand, Bartlett pears change from green skin color to yellow as they ripen. The texture changes slightly from crunchy to velvety, flavor from tart to sweet. This is the pear of choice for creating pear butter, as it breaks down quickly when heated.
Asian Pears – If I venture outside my local shopping area, I can find Asian pears. Mostly yellowish tan in my neck of the woods, they can be green in color, as well as orangish brown. Shaped more like an apple, Asian pears have a smooth, creamy texture and a sweet flavor. They are delicious raw, and firm enough to use in salads, and most dessert applications. They don’t seem to bruise as easily, and with their light colored skin, I like to use these pears for creating subtle garnishes.
Comice Pears – A variety I seek out for flavor and texture. The pale yellowish green skin is soft and easy to bite into. The flesh is moist and juicy, with a sweet pronounced pear flavor. Not a pear I bake or cook with, Comice pears are perfect for eating out of hand. They work very well as a choice for preparing pear butter, as they soften quickly with heat applied.
Many fruits are ideal for making fruit butters. Pears, apples, cherries, plum and mango to name a few. The fruit is usually peeled, chopped (any seed or stems discarded), and cooked at a low temperature in a slow cooker or in a saucepan. As the water in the fruit evaporates, the mixture thickens and the flavors intensify. Apples, for example, will go from apple sauce to apple puree to apple butter, depending on how much time they spend cooking and losing their natural water.
Natural sweeteners such as honey and pure maple syrup are popular additions, as are warm spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combining fruits to create unique flavors is desirable.
When the fruit has softened significantly when simmered, the fruit is added to a blender or food processor to break it down further and help achieve the smooth, buttery texture that we desire.
I started with four Bosc pears. I removed their skins with a vegetable peeler. Lopped off the stem, cut them in half vertically, and removed their seeds. Sliced the pears in long strips. The pears were added to a saucepan along with a splash of apple juice, a squeeze of lemon, and some ground ginger, and cinnamon.
The pears are simmered over low heat for 10 minutes or so before I hit them with a potato masher. I continue to cook them for about 10 more minutes to remove more moisture. The cooked pear mixture is added to my food processor and processed until smooth. Back into the saucepan until I’m happy with the consistency. The longer you cook the pears the thicker the mixture. Just be careful not to forget about it, as it will eventually burn. Otherwise, give it a good stir every now and again. Most of the time you are looking for a spreadable consistency similar to slightly softened butter.
- 800 grams Bosc pears (4 large)
- 30 grams apple juice
- 30 grams fresh lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
- 2 grams ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 gram ground ginger (1/4 teaspoon)
- Peel pears with a vegetable peeler. Remove stems and cores with a paring knife. Cut into strips or chunks.
- Add pear pieces to saucepan with apple juice, fresh squeezed lemon juice, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger.
- Simmer mixture over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pears will break down on their own, but you can help them along with a wooden spoon or a potato masher.
- Remove the pears from the heat, add to food processor. Process until smooth. If the consistency is a little thin, return the puree to the saucepan, and continue cooking.
- When you’re happy with the consistency, remove from the heat. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container for a week or two.