Seems I’ve swung from pondering about the possibility of life without Industrial Civilization to food blogging. The season is the reason. Even though the temperatures are reaching into the 100’s, there’s an abundance of food in NW Florida to be had. I’d love to share all of foodie projects from this year, but I’m finding it challenging to keep up with doing and blogging. Here’s a partial list of some of the things I’ve done recently with seasonal and local food:
- Made dehydrated tree collard chips
- Dehydrated, froze, and made fruit leather with blueberries
- Built a solar oven and cooked brownies, chicken and vegetables, and rice pilaf
- Picked figs and dehydrated
- Dehydrated okra and made okra chips
- Dehydrated chopped onions
- Made Greek yogurt
- Made lemon grass tincture
- Made two kinds of farmer’s cheese
- Made pear butter
The latest project, the pear butter, is what I want to share today. It is literally sunshine in a jar and then some. Arriving at the Seaside Farmers Market this weekend, we saw the sweet couple who sell the Asian pears and Fuju persimmons. They are only at the market when the pears and persimmons come into season. As soon as I saw the crates of Asian pears stacked one on top of each other, I started daydreaming about pear butter. It’s not like I love pear butter, but I do love apple butter and in a split second I was convinced that love could be easily transferred to pears. I think I was right.
I purchased about 10 pounds of pears with blind faith that I would “figure it out” when I got home. After poring over several recipes and becoming temporarily disappointed because I didn’t have a food mill or a chinoise, I decided to proceed anyway. I settled on this recipe from Simply Recipes. I loved this recipe because it treated the pear like a pear and not an apple. The pear has its own unique flavor and this recipe accentuates it well by including the spices star anise, ginger, and cardamom. If you don’t have these spices on hand, I highly recommend that you don’t discount them or substitute for another. At that point, you may as well find another recipe. The food mill, one can live without – the spices, no. The lemon juice is also complimentary and a refreshing change from orange juice.
I made a few adjustments for personal taste. In addition to the Asian pears, I also used about six local sand pears that I acquired from another vendor. I halved the lemon juice because I didn’t want to add more liquid to the pear sauce. I also backed way down on the sugar. The pears are sweet enough on their own, so I reduced the amount to 1/4 cup per cup of sauce and that was still a little too sweet for my preference. I also didn’t have a food mill or sieve, as noted above. I simply peeled and cored the pears first, then cooked them down in a slow cooker with the spices. When they were super soft, I mashed them with a potato masher. Right before I put the pear butter in the jars, I decided I wanted it smoother and mixed it in two batches, for just a few seconds, in a Vita-Mix. This step isn’t necessary.
I was convinced that this was too much work for so little reward, until the next morning when we had pear butter on toast for breakfast. Eric asked me if I would sell these at the market. Sorry to disappoint, but…no. I think this pear butter holds a special place in my heart next to my all time favorite, McCutcheon’s apple butter.