Pears are king here in Southern Oregon and I grew up literally next door to a pear orchard, so I really didn’t know how special pears are until I discovered the work that horticulturist Dr. David Sugar and his colleagues have been doing with pears for 30+ years at Southern Oregon Research & Extension Service. Now I love pears! This recipe is inspired by my friend Betsy, who wanted to make a pear jam that would please her husband. I tinkered with the recipe a little more and here it is. I have yet to hear of someone who doesn’t adore Vanilla-Laced Pear Jam after tasting it. People tell me it tastes like spreadable marshmallows, and my friend Bhanu confessed that her husband “ate most of it from the jar with a spoon.”
Recipe may be doubled successfully. Cook on almost high heat and pay attention to stirring.
|Secret ingredient… shhh!|
6 -7 cups prepared fruit (begin with 3 1/2 – 4 lbs. fully ripe pear)
1 tsp ascorbic acid
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (do not use bottle lemon juice here; it will affect the flavor)
2 tsp Watkins Clear Vanilla (regular vanilla will affect the color; Watkins is key for flavor)
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 tsp butter
3 cups sugar, divided
1 box Sure Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Pectin
2 whole vanilla beans, cut in fourths, optional
1. Heat BWC (Boiling Water Canner) half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water, rinse well. Pour boiling water over lids in saucepan off heat; cover until ready to use.
|Pears resting in acidulated water (1 quart cool water + 1 tsp ascorbic acid) to prevent browning of fruit.|
2. Set up your work area. Dissolve ascorbic acid in 6 cups water in a large bowl. Get our your cutting board, paring knife, and apple slicer gadget. (You can just use a paring knife, but that little gizmo that you press down over apples to core and slice them is a real time-saver here with pears.) Set out a bowl for your cores and peels and another bowl for measuring the diced pears. (My Pampered Chef glass batter/measuring bowl works great for this.) Place preserving pan or stock pot on the stove.
|Pears are cut in 1/4 inch dice.|
3. Wash pears. Slice and core them with t he gadget or your knife, then peel them and drop them immediately into the acidulated water. Pear slices need to be covered with water or they will darken. When you have all the pears peeled and sliced, skim a few slices out of the water at a time, and dice them. Place diced pears in another bowl. Add the lemon juice; stir. You should end up with 6-7 cups prepared fruit. It is important to work quickly through the recipe. If the pear slices sit in water too long, they become soggy and affect jam gel later when you cook the spread.
4. Mix 1/4 cup of sugar (from the 3 cups) with pectin in a small bowl. Add prepared pears, pectin-sugar mixture, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and butter to stockpot; mix well. Bring to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
|Vanilla beans are optional; they can often be found in the bulk food section of some grocery stores for a very reasonable cost.|
5. Remove cinnamon sticks and ladle immediately into prepared jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Top with a piece of vanilla bean, if desired. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with lids and screw bands, finger tip tight. Place jars on rack in BWC. Water must cover jars by 1-2 inches, add boiling water if necessary. Cover; bring to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes; adjust for altitude (consult Ball Blue Book for altitude chart.) When processing time ends remove lid, turn off burner, and let jars sit 5 minutes in canner before removing them to a draft-free, towel-covered surface.
6. After jars are cool (within 24 hours) check seals. Unsealed jars must be refrigerated and used within 2 weeks. Remove bands and wash jars to remove any sticky residue. Label and store in a cool, dark place. Jam sets slowly and may take up to 1 week to set completely. Use within 1 year for best quality.
|Ooh la la! So very good!|