Tag Archives | pears

Pear Cranberry Jam

pear cranberry jam

It is no secret that pears are one of my great loves of the fruit world. They have a delicate, flexible flavor that goes well with nearly anything (including vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and lavender). They work in fruit butters, jams, and chutneys. Many varieties don’t need to be peeled before cooking. And if you’ve never tried one, you should know that a pickled pear are one of life’s true delights.

chopped pears

Knowing my general appreciation for all things pear, it should surprise no one that a couple weeks back, I matched them up with a bunch of cranberries, to see how the two would jam together. Well, the results are in. Pears and cranberries make a very good team.

pears and cranberries

One of the things I like about making jams with cranberries is the fact that since they contain so much natural pectin, you’re able to dial back the sugar more so than with other fruits and still expect to develop a very nice set during cooking.

My normal ratio for jam is two parts fruit to one part sugar. You’ll notice that in this recipe, I shaved off a full cup of sugar and still wound up with a gorgeously set, plenty sweet jam.

adding lemon

Like so many of the jams I make, I kept this go-round fairly unadorned. It was just pears, cranberries, sugar, and the zest and juice of one little lemon. I like to keep the first pass simple, to ensure that the primary players work well together before I muck around with secondary layers.

Happy with the basic version, chances are good that I’ll come back to this formula again and tweak it with some ginger, or a few warm winter spices. You are welcome to add a pinch of this or that on your first pass, should you so desire.

182/365

Though I missed the obvious Thanksgiving window for this jam, I have a hunch that it still has many opportunities to shine before the year is out. I’m confident it will pair up nicely with a plateful of latkes in place the the traditional applesauce (Hanukkah starts in just over a week!). I know for a fact it is dreamy with a smear of fresh goat cheese. And as you head into the holiday baking season, consider filling a thumbprint cookie with a dab of this sweet-tart spread.

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Welcome 2012 + Persimmon and Pear Chutney

persimmon

Happy New Year, friends! I hope your celebrations last night were full of delight. Scott and I rang in the new year with pizza, champagne and a few favorite people (including 20-month-old twins who entertained us by dancing to the Nutcracker Suite).

I didn’t intend to go entirely quiet over the last week, but I so wanted to relish my last couple days in Portland with my parents. When I landed in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning, it just felt right to continue the break. It’s been a lovely thing to take a little time away from this space, to think about how I want to approach it in 2012.

I plan to continue to post new recipes, including more pressure canner tutorials, small batch preserves and ways to get your jams, chutneys and sauces out of their jars and onto the table.

purloined persimmons

You’ll see more foods in jars made by other people. Though it’s always my goal to help inspire people to head for their own kitchens, there’s also a world of delicious foods in jars out there being made by truly talented folks. I want to occasionally showcase them.

There will also be posts about cookbooks, space for questions and answers and some regular video features. I’m also going to be out and about a bit over the spring and summer to help promote my cookbook, so I’ll be posting about any and all opportunities to come and spend a bit of time with me.

bruised pears and persimmons

Now, about that recipe. While I was out in Portland, my mom and I came across a persimmon tree. It was in someone’s yard, bursting with fruit and covered with birds. We stood there for a moment, pondering the ethics of the situation, when a car pulled into the house’s driveway. We asked about picking a few and the owner held out an open grocery bag and simply said, “take what you want.”

Not wanting to be greedy, we took just three of the perfect fuyu persimmons from his bag and said thanks. We brought them home and proceeded to let them sit around for nearly a week. On the morning of Christmas Eve, my mom commented that I either needed to make something with them or throw them out. And so, I made a small batch of chutney with our three foraged persimmons and two bruised pears that had been rolling around the fridge.

After cutting away the bad spots and chopping them finely, I combined the pears and persimmons with half of a finely chopped red onion, 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 2 tablespoons raisins, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon allspice in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot.

Then it was just a matter of letting the mixture cook down for 30-45 minutes over medium-high heat. As you simmer the chutney, taste it and adjust the sugar, spices and salt. Should you like a bit of heat in your chutney, add a pinch of red chili flakes or smidgen of cayenne pepper. The chutney is finished when the persimmon skins are tender and it doesn’t look at all watery.

My batch filled three half-pint jars with just a bit leftover to eat immediately with cheese. It can be processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, or just kept in the fridge for regular eating. This time of year, when we rely more heavily on braises, stews and soups, it’s nice to have something within easy reach that can add a burst of bright flavor. I left all that I made back in Portland and am hoping to find a few inexpensive persimmons in Philly to make another batch.

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Pear Cinnamon Jam

pear cinnamon jam

Last July, I spent a day in Washington, D.C., at the annual summer Fancy Food Show. I walked the show floor. I tasted a world of spreads, snacks, jams and cheeses. I took photos of everything I saw that I liked, intending to come back and write a post rounding up my favorite products from the show. I got as far as uploading my photos to Flickr before life got away from me (this seems to be a common theme with me). I never wrote the post.

pears in my great-grandmother's bowl

Part of the reason I wanted to write that post, was to tell you about a cinnamon pear jam I had tasted. Made by Sidehill Farm in Brattleboro, VT, this jam was the perfect marriage of fruit and spice. The flecks of cinnamon were suspended in a slow cooked jam. If it had been polite, I would have scraped that little sample jar clean before moving on to the next table.

pear cinnamon jam

I think you all know where this story is headed. I’ve made a batch of jam in an attempt to recreate that particular jar. Because pears are one of my favorite fruits for preserving, it wasn’t a stretch for me to take my standard pear jam formula (eight cups chopped fruit and four cups sugar) and apply cinnamon to it. It is heaven.

pear cinnamon jam

I used local Bartlett pears that I ordered through Three Springs Fruit Farm (I got 25 pounds, which is enough to make this batch of jam at least five times over. I did something else with them that I’ll be showing you soon). If you’re in the Philly area, know that Three Springs still has more pears to sell and you can order them straight off their website. I just love how modern technology makes working with farmers so easy.

pear cinnamon jam

When you make this jam, you’ll notice that your finished product will be a bit lighter in color than mine. I’ve made this recipe twice now. The first time I did it (which was the time I took these pictures), I used two tablespoons of ground cinnamon in the jam. And I discovered that that may well have been too much. The second time, I stuck to a more judicious single tablespoon and was much happier with the result.

pear cinnamon jam

Should you be an adventurous sort, you could also add a bit of clove and ginger to this jam, for a decidedly holiday flavor. I didn’t go that route this time, as I was trying to replicate that jam. But now that I’m thinking about it, a jam made with pears and an array of warm, mulling spices could be just wonderful.

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