Monday, October 1, 2007

The End of The Pears

My parents are touring the country of Israel right now. Just before they left, my Dad dropped in with a gift- a bag full of the strange mutant pears from one of their pear trees. These are an odd sort of pear. We lovingly call them the Lemon Pears, because they look like a pear, smell like a pear, but they taste like a lemon. They are very unique and come from just one off-shoot of the seckle pear tree. Like I said, a mutant. But since they were going to be gone for 10 days, there was no way they'd have time to enjoy these strange pears, or do something with them. It was up to me. What on earth could I do with these strange lemon-flavored pears?

Well, having been sick for an entire week, I forgot about these pears, to be honest, but spying the pears out of the corner of my eye, I could just see my dad's disappointment when I informed him that the pears did not find a purpose. So I thought of a purpose. It struck me that there could be nothing better for these lemon-flavored pears than a long slow simmer into pear butter. Even better- a spiced pear butter. I cut the stem and blossom end off the pears, chunked them, and tossed them into some apple cider. I went to add some whole spices, and didn't find what I wanted, so I headed to the freezer, sure I had something. Well, I spied a package of whole mulling spices from Penzey's, and I thought that would be perfect, so a few scoops of that went in the pot, along with some fresh gingerroot and a few cardamom pods to play with the lemon flavor.

I simmered this away for about 45 minutes before pressing the pears through a chinois. By using the chinois I eliminated the step of peeling and coring the pears- saving a whole bunch of time. After the pressing, I put the pear juice mixture back into the pot with some sugar and spent a long afternoon waiting for it to thicken up. No kidding, it took about 3 hours before I was happy with it. But oh boy, is it a delicious pear butter. Full of warm spices and sweet pear flavor, it will make an excellent treat this winter smeared onto homemade biscuits, waffles, or pancakes. And just check out the color! Somehow the pear butter ended up a deep dark blush color- it's gorgeous, and I daresay, a fantastic use of some otherwise strange pears. I think my dad will be happy with it, and I'm feeling pretty good about putting all three varieties of pear into my pantry. That's not to bad in my book.

I have the recipe for Spiced Pear Butter I've modified in the Recipe Trove for anyone interested. And in an interesting bit of trivia day, today is World Vegetarian Day, so if you're thinking about making a recipe honoring the vast array of fruits and vegetables available to us, today is the day to do it.


swirlingnotions said...

Looks fantastic! It makes me want to smear it on a baguette. I have a question about fruit butters, though; something that's always nagged at me. Do you use them like a jam, i.e., slathered on top of butter, or like a flavored butter on their own? I always feeling like I'm "doing it wrong."

Erika W. said...

Lia, I think you can use them either way. Although the thing about fruit butters is that they have a richness to them that jam and preserves don't have. I think for the most part they can stand on their own, and adding dairy butter may make whatever you're eating a little on the rich side. Then again, I love pumpkin butter on my waffles, but not without a smear of butter first. So I don't think there's a right or wrong way to eat it- whatever striked your fancy at the moment.

linda said...

I wonder if your mutant pears are related to quinces?