Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pear Honey

At today's monthly Garden Club meeting, I mentioned the pears we'd picked at the start of September and one of the members asked if I ever make Pear Honey as it was her sister's favorite type of preserves. Yes, we love it, too!

I use the recipe from Helen Witty's "Fancy Pantry" (sadly OOP but one of my favorite cookbooks) and make it every year I pick pears. The syrupy preserve is what Witty describes as "spoon sweets." We like it spread on toast or a hot biscuit and it tastes wonderful warmed and poured over waffles. Pancakes would work, too, but there's something about the thick sweetness that cries out for a crisp waffle. YMMV And a few spoonfuls over ice cream, vanilla pudding or a slice of pound cake make a company-worthy dessert out of something plain.

It doesn't take a lot of effort once you've pared, quartered and cored the pears so give it a try if you have a few pounds of fragrant, ripe but not soft, pears on hand. Sometimes I vary Witty's recipe by adding a can of crushed pineapple along with the pears. It gives the honey an additional tang but does dot it with "pineapple lumps" instead of it being smooth in appearance.

Pear Honey

4 pounds pears
water, as needed
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon, grated
6 cups sugar

Peel and quarter pears, removing core. Dip them into a bowl of cold water to hold till all are ready.

Combine 6 cups water with the lemon juice in a large pan. Shred or grate pear sections; add the shreds to the lemon water. May use food processor to shred pears, if desired.

Combine the grated lemon zest with about a quart of water in another saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes, drain zest and add to pear mixture.

Bring pears to a boil over medium-high heat. Gradually stir in sugar; return the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat and simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring it from time to time, until the shreds of fruit are clear and the syrup has thickened, about 1 hour.

Watch carefully towards the end of cooking and stir often to prevent burning. (I use a flame tamer on my gas stove.) The pear honey is thick enough when a small spoonful placed on a chilled saucer thickens to the consistency of a soft preserve, not a stiff jam, when it is refrigerated for a few minutes. To prevent overcooking, set the pan off the heat while testing.

Ladle hot pear honey into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal and process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes (either size jar).

If you've never canned before check out the latest Ball Blue Book of Preserving or the USDA-funded website, National Center for Home Food Preserving, for detailed directions.

For cooking tips, check out Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.


Staci P. said...

I ordered the book you recommended, Fancy Pantry. I'm looking forward to making the pear butter! It sounds delicious, I've never had it before but I'm sure my family will love it!

Carolyn said...

I've had that book since it first came out and it's still an absolute favorite! I hate that it's out-of-print but I was lucky enough to find another copy for my sister at a library book sale a few years ago. It's definitely a keeper and I was tired of loaning mine out. ;-)

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.