A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Brandy in my shopping tote class. We got to talking and she told me about a spiced pear jam that she often gave away as a gift for the holidays. I’d never had pear jam before, but was instantly intrigued. Especially because I remembered that my parents had two pears trees in their backyard that were laden with more pears than they knew what to do with.
This was my first attempt at making jam, but I was armed with a couple different recipes from Brandy and a huge bag of Bartlett pears from my parents. My mom came over on ‘jam day’ and helped with all the peeling, coring and chopping of the pears. We made two batches and ended up with seven jars of seriously delicious jam. I sense a yearly jam tradition starting up.
CHUNKY VANILLA PEAR JAM
Adapted from “Perfect Preserves” by Nora Carey (Stewart Tabori and Chang, 1990)
Posted in the NY TIMES
5 pounds pears, preferably Bartlett
Grated zest of a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
16 ounces frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups water
To sterilize your jars and lids, fill a very large pot half full with boiling water. Add the empty jars and lids and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Keep the jars in the hot water.
Peel, quarter and core the pears. Chop them in small cubes and toss them in a bowl with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan combine the apple juice concentrate with the vanilla bean and the water. Boil it over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and add the pears and their liquid.
Bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat and cook, stirring frequently, about 45 minutes, or until the mixture thickens enough to hold its shape on a spoon and has reached nearly 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Using tongs, carefully remove the jars and lids from the hot water and drain them. Fill the jars with the hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top of the jar. Wipe the rims of the jar clean with a dampened cloth and fit the lids on the tops of the jars. Screw on the bands very firmly. Lower the jars into the water and add more hot water so that the water is one to two inches above the jars. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil gently for 10 minutes. Remove the jars to a rack and cool completely. Do not invert.
This recipe contains no added sugar or pectin, something you’ll find in traditional jam recipes. It uses the natural fruit sugars to give a more natural sweetness. The end result is not as gelled or sweet as regular jam, but this leaves you with something that resembles a thick pear sauce. You won’t believe how flavourful this recipe is, especially with the vanilla bean. I had some of the jam over french toast the other day and it was incredible!