There a short list of canning recipes that I think of as my greatest hits. They are the preserves I come back to again and again, and are also the ones about which I’ve gotten the most feedback from readers and friends. This tomato jam is one. The roasted corn salsa in Food in Jars is another. And this time of year, I always make a batch of apple cranberry jam to share for Thanksgiving.
Another recipe that tops the greatest hits list? Pear vanilla jam. It’s a recipe I first made in early 2011 and I’ve since done it so many times that I can produce it entirely from memory. It’s a jam that works equally well on peanut butter toast or as part of a fancy pants cheese plate (try it with Delice de Bourgogne) and is always makes for a welcome hostess gift.
Recently, I’ve been taking a slightly different approach to this jam. I start with just two pounds of pears, cut the proportion of sugar down a hair, and then, when it’s all done cooking, I scrape it into a heat-proof measuring cup and puree the heck out of it with an immersion blender.
What the pureeing does is that it transforms it into a sweet, sticky glaze that retains a bit of the pear’s wonderful graininess. I call it a drizzle, though if the jar has been in the fridge, it can harden slightly past the drizzle point. I’ve taken to spreading micro-thin layers on toasted and buttered whole grain pancakes (I try to keep a stash in the freezer) and really like an afternoon snack that includes rice crackers, goat cheese, and little dabs of this sweet pear goo.
It’s not a flashy preserve, but it’s one of my favorites. Maybe it will become one yours too!
- 2 pounds relatively ripe Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou pears
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Prepare a small boiling water bath canner and three half pint jars.
- Core and chop the pears and place them in a low, wide pan. Add the sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon juice.
- Place pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring regularly, until the fruit softens and the jam thickens.
- You know when a small batch like this is done because you'll be able to pull your spatula through the cooking jam and the space you cleared won't immediately fill up with jam.
- When the jam is finished cooking (it shouldn't take more than 18-20 minutes), scrape it into a heat-proof measuring cup. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
- Funnel jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel.
- When jars are cool enough to handle, check the seals. All sealed jars are shelf stable for up to one year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.