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Posts Tagged 'Fruit Butter'

Everything is better in pears.

I’ve been eyeing a pear butter recipe for a couple months now. This is the recipe that I saw over at r/canning on Reddit. The user that posted the recipe said that he subbed brown sugar for half of the white sugar. Having made more than my fair share of apple butter in the past I wanted to try my hand at this pear butter.

When I saw that Bountiful Baskets was offering 38lbs of pears for 24 dollars I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. First off I wanted to commend Bountiful Baskets on their selection of fruit. When I got the car home Saturday morning the pears were all that beautiful yellow green, some with pink hues. I don’t know what variety they were, but the box was marked Rogue Valley Farms (which I looked up and found to be in Washington State). The pears were all firm, which concerned me at first, thinking that they weren’t ripe. However when I sliced off a piece I was amazed; Firm but juicy, extremely flavorful, and with what I can only describe as pure pear flavor. Sometimes ripe pears can be soft and overly juicy, making them delicious but messy. These were not the case. I probably had a half dozen that first day.

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By the time I got back to the case on Tuesday the pears were very ripe. My bad for leaving them confined in that box for 3 days. But luckily my intent was to make pear butter and not just can them outright. Two of them felt like water balloons with the skins barely holding, but those were my only loss.

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If you read my blog, and haven’t figured it out yet, you NEED a KitchenAid stand mixer. I could not make it without my KitchenAid, my AllClad 8qt pot, and my Presto 23qt pressure cooker. Those are 3 must-haves in my kitchen. The fruit and vegetable strainer (food mill) attachment saves me hours of manual labor. If you didn’t know, the skins and cores of pears and apples contain a substantial amount of pectin. We like pectin. Pectin makes is happy. People who peel and core their fruit prior to cooking are tossing away fruit pulp and pectin that would improve their recipe. So if you’re really getting into canning buy yourself a heavy bottom stainless steel pot to cook the fruit, a KitchenAid with attachment to macerate the fruit, and a nice big heavy canner to preserve the fruit. All three are lifetime investments.

On a tiny side note, I was complaining that I needed a larger stock pot to cool larger quantities. My wife made the mistake of letting me go to the store by myself. And I returned with this.

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About $1000 worth of AllClad (though with some good bargaining I paid 2/3 of that). My point is I love my wife….and quality cookware will last a lifetime and make kitchen time more enjoyable.

Spiced Brown Sugar Pear Butter

Pears
Lemon Juice
Water
Chopped Ginger
Star Anise
Lemon Zest
Cardamom
Nutmeg
Sugar
Brown Sugar

Ok, back from my tangent. Start by pulling the stems out of the pears. If they are ripe they’ll slide right out. That is the only part we won’t be using. Cut the pears into quarters lengthwise and the rough chop the quarters into 3-5 pieces depending on the size if the pear. Put the chopped pears in a large pot with lemon juice and water. Add the star anise and the ginger.

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Heat to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the pears are soft. If your pears are firm this could take 20-30 minutes. Mine were soft in about 10 minutes. Remove the star anise which may be in pieces now.

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Run the pears through your food mill/vegetable stained/chinoiserie to create pear sauce. I noticed that the fiber of the pears was clogging up the mill after a while and the expressed matter contained a lot of pulp. So I added about a half cup of the liquid from the pot, mixed them up, and ran them through a 2nd time. That seemed to do the trick. The remnants should be dry and solid and consist mainly of skins and seeds. Like this:

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Return your sauce to the pot. Add the nutmeg, lemon zest, and cardamom.

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Then stir in your sugar and brown sugar. Make sure to break up any clumps of sugar. I used an immersion blender to mix it up and to get a smoother texture on the pear.

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This is the part where we talk about patience and taste. You’ll notice the original recipe called for 5-6 pounds of pears, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar per 2 cups of pear sauce, and a half teaspoon of each of the spices. Starting with 38 pounds I didn’t weigh out 5-6 pounds. I simply estimated l, dividing my crate into 6. I followed that recipe for my first batch. And I found it to be to watery, under seasoned, and so sickeningly sweet that I couldn’t eat it. I don’t know if it was my variety of pears, but I basically got diabetes when I tasted it. I couldn’t imagine how much sweeter it would get with reduction. So I added at least 1/3 of the volume again of pear sauce. I also upped the seasoning. The original recipe also said to cook for 45 minutes to 2 hours. My apple butter cooks 8-10 hours and I think it’s worth it.

Luckily I had 38 pounds of pears that turned in to over 16 quarts if pear sauce to play with. Heres half of my total.

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So here’s what I finally came up with that I liked.

16 cups pear sauce
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup water
2 T chopped ginger root
3-4 whole star anise
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 heaping t cardamom
1 heaping t nutmeg
Zest of one medium lemon

Heat your mixture to a boil and the. Reduce to medium. You want a good steady boil to reduce it down. Stir it regularly. And be careful. Mine was boiling and popping several inches into the air. I got some pretty painful burns on my fingers.

Please be patient. I have yet to try a fruit butter recipe that finished quickly that is good. I let both batches go just over 3 hours. And I only stopped because I was exhausted and had to get up in another 3 hours to see the kids off the school. The butter should be a deep rich color and bubble like lava rather than boil.

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The mixture reduced in volume by about a third. The lack of sugar made for a runnier product. I tasted it at least a dozen times and couldn’t see myself adding any more sugar. The pears themselves were so sweet that it would have ruined it. To try to firm it up some I added one package of pectin. Not sure if it helped, but it made me feel better. I also ran the immersion blender through it again to get a smooth texture.

When your butter gets to a texture you’re happy with follow the regular sterilize the jars, fill the jars, close the jars procedure.

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Process for 10 minutes for half pints.

I wound up with 49 half pints of pear butter and 6 pints of pear sauce (the left overs that weren’t enough for their own batch of butter). Not a bad haul.

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The flavor is fantastic. Lighter than apple butter, but still very flavorful. The anise comes through nicely and is a great alternative to clove. I’ve had it on wheat bread and dinner rolls so far and have no complaints. It is a bit runnier than my apple butter, but not so much that it drips off the bread. It sets up more in the fridge. And again I wouldn’t trade a firm set for an overly sweet product.

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All in all I really like this recipe. I’d love to try it again with a variety of different pears. I definitely agree with OP in the fact that pears need more delicate accompaniments than apples. I think their spice choices were spot on, though I would increase the amounts.

My favorite part of finding recipes is trying them and making changes to make them my own. If you try this and make some changes that you enjoy please let me know about them.

Happy canning.

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Mmmmmm Apple Butter

I drove out to the Superstition Ranch Market on Monday, and found that they had Macintoch Apples for $.69/lb, Fuji Apples for $.40/lb, and Jonagold Apples for $.39/lb.  About 30 pounds later, I’m driving home to make apple butter.

I’m torn on the joys of making apple butter.  Let’s be honest, people are always really impressed when you give them a jar of  preserves or pickles.  There’s an impression that it’s insanely hard to make this stuff.  But I think that’s only because most people don’t, and thus don’t know how.  It reminds me of the old Rice Krispie Treat commercials where mom spend 15 minutes making the treats, only to buy a couple hours of quiet time, throw some flower around, and be received by her family with admiration.  Jam is pretty easy to make.  It takes a little skill, the ability to closely follow a very simple recipe, and bit of free time. But it’s no souffle.  Am I right?
Apple butter on the other hand takes time.  A lot of time.  And while it’s not difficult, I get burned more by apple butter than I do jam (although the jam burns are significantly hotter).  Apple butter also uses more counter space, more dishes, and more manual labor.  So when people are appreciative of my apple butter, I take it.  Every word of it.

That all being said, you know I do this stuff because I love it.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t make it (see Okra).  So I give to you, Apple Butter:

The first step is to get some apples.  Actually, a lot of apples.  Probably at least 10lbs.  You want about 9 quarts of apple sauce. Wait, what’s that you say? You didn’t know we were making apples sauce?  Yes.  We are making apple sauce first, and then apple butter.  And since I’m getting the water canner boiling, and making the kitchen messy, I figure, might as well get it all done at once.  You can’t make too much.  Because if you decide that you don’t want that much apple butter, just can the apple sauce the way it is.  Make sense?

What kind of apples you ask?  What kind do you have?  I wouldn’t use Granny Smith, or anything else overly tart.  But generally any other kind of apple will work. And here’s the thing, the more variety, the better.  I’ve used 5 different types in the past.  Each apple variety brings a little something different to the table, and together, they make magic.

I (as you read above) went with 3 varieties this time; from left to right Jonagold, Macintosh, and Fuji.  Why did I go with those 3?  Did you not see the prices I listed above?  Cost is a huge motivator for me when it comes time to decide what to make.

I bet for step one you’re expecting peel, cut, and core.  Nope.  That’s a huge wast of my time, and a waste of apple.  I let the Kitchenaid do all the work for me.  Did I mention that I use a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer wit the food and vegetable strainer attachment for this? Well I do.  And you should too.  If you fancy yourself any kind of semi-legit cook, or a home canner, or a neo-homesteader, you need a Kitchenaid with the grinder.  I can’t live without it.

Cut the apples into 8ths. Some of the Jonagolds were really big, and they got cut into 12ths or something.  But try to keep the shapes about the same size throughout.  The only thing you need to remove is the produce sticker, and as much of the bulk of the stem as you can.  But everything else stays.

Put about an inch or 2 of water in the bottom of a large pot, and start to heat it on high.  then toss in your apples as you cut them.  I don’t cut them all ahead of time, cause where am I gonna store 30lbs of sliced apples?

Lets interject to discuss pots quickly.  I have mostly All-Clad stainless cookwear.  And it’s amazing.  I also have this cheap-o aluminum stock pot from a grocery store.  And it sucks.  I almost lost half of my patch (15lbs!!) last night when the cheap-o pot got 2 hot spots and started to burn the apples.  Whereas the All-Clad is so thick, it heats evenly and maintains the heat too.  If you don’t have a nice set of cookwear, save up and get some.  It makes such a difference.  At least get a nice heavy skillet and a nice heavy pot.  The All-Clad batch cooked faster, and nicer than the cheap pot ever did.  I actually turned the cheap pot off halfway through and did smaller batches in the All-Clad.

Anyway, heat and stir, heat and stir, heat and stir until the apples are all soft.

As you can see there are some different consistencies in there.  I found that the Macintosh apples disintegrated in the heat.  The Fuji’s put up a good fight, but started to fall apart as well.  The Jonagold’s however, good lord.  They took forever to soften, and they never broke down.  Mental note, what a great baking apple if I need it to stand up to heat.  When all the apples are soft, move them to a large bowl and heat another batch if needed.

The set up: The blue bowl will catch the remnants.  The middle bowl will catch the applesauce, and the bowl on the right contains the cooked apples.  After attaching the grinder/food mill, turn the mixer on 2.  Start feeding the apples through.

This is the part that hurts.  The food mill has a tendency to suck and spit all over the place.  And those apples were boiling 30 seconds ago.  Don’t put your face over the food tray while you’re doing this.  I got hot apple juice in my eye last time. It hurts.  Nuff said.

Cooked apples go in the top.  All the skins, seeds, stems, cores, etc come out here in dried out little apple poo nuggets. This is why the blue bowl is here.

And out of the bottom comes pure liquid gold.  Congratulations, you’ve just made apple sauce.  It’s just that easy.  And if you wanna quit at apple sauce you totally can.  And this is it.  It doesn’t need anything.  No sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, no sodium stearoyl lactylate, no nothing!  And that’s the best part about making our own food, isn’t it?  Now, I have been known to add a touch of cinnamon, but you don’t even need to add that now if you wanna sprinkle it on it when you eat it.  You can just reheat it to a boil,   jar this stuff up and water bath can it for 15 minutes for pints, and 20 for quarts.

That being said, in the interest of transparency, you could also (shudder) used purchased applesauce and start the recipe here.

Those fibrous apple nuggets can be composted if you’re into that (and if you’re reading my blog, you probably are).

Fill a crock pot almost to the top with your apple sauce.  Mine holds about 4 quarts.  Though bigger is fine.  Add 2 cups of sugar, 2T Cinnamon, 1t Clove, and 1/2t Allspice.  Then mix it all together well.

Put a wooden spool, a couple of chop sticks, dowels, or shish-kabob skewers across the pot, and then set the lid on it. This allows steam to escape, which will help it reduce, but keeps yoru kitchen clean and napalm free.

How long should this cook?  I don’t have a clue.  This isn’t so much a science as it is an art.  start with 8 hours, and work your way up.  I’m well above 12 hours, but my Crock Pot isn’t impressive.  Start with your pot on high to get it going, and then turn it down.  Check on it after 6, 8, and 10 hours.  And stir it any time you walk past it.  You want it to reduce in volume almost by half.  I set this at 2am, and it was ready for the next step at 7:30pm. So, almost 18 hours.  But, I also kept the pot on low since i knew I wouldn’t be around.

What if it burns? If it burns, remove the sauce into a bowl.  The burnt part should be stuck to the crock pot.  Clean it, return it to the pot, and continue.  What if it’s too runny?  Cook it longer.  What if it’s reduced too much?  Add apple sauce.  This is the nice thing.  Like I said, not a science.

After however many hours, your apple butter will be reduced by about half.  Mind you, that’s more than in this picture, but I totally spaced taking a picture at that point.

Then you add apple sauce to to the top of the crock again, and another 2 cups of sugar.  Mix well.  Let it cook a couple more ours to combine.  I cooked it another 3-4 hours.

Using an immersion blender, process until smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, either buy one, or skip this step.  I do not want to get an email from you in the burn unit after a blender or food processor mishap.  Ok?  Safety first.  This is boiling apples and sugar.  If you don’t blend this, I don’t think it’s the end of the world, it just wont have that smooth buttery consistency that apple butter should.

That’s it.  You’ve made Apple Butter.

Using safe canning methods (you know, clean jars, ladle, and funnel) fill your jars with the apple butter.  I’ve done pints in the past, but apple butter doesn’t go as quickly as jam in our house.  So I stick to 1/2 pints to avoid any waste.

Remember to leave your 1/4 inch head space, put the cover on and hand tighten the ring.

Put em in the water bath (yes, there are 5 1/2 pints in there) and let em ride for 10 minutes for 1/2 pints or pints, and 15 min for quarts.

Remove, and let sit for 24 hours without disturbing them.  I usually put them back in the original cardboard case the jars came in them, and slide them in a cupboard to keep the kids away from them.

And we’ve made apple butter.  You can put it on toast or english muffins, make PB&AB sandwich, or heat it and brush it onto pork, pour it onto pancakes, mix it in oatmeal, or use it to top vanilla ice cream.

 


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