What is that poem we learned in 4th grade ... oh, shoot, you remember .... October?? .... anyway, a line kinda goes - "the trees in apple orchard with fruit are bending down" .... guess that goes for pears as well.
The request for our favorite Spiced Pear Preserves created a search through shelves of cookbooks and recipe cards accumulated over the last 40 years. Being the type of cook that has a tendency of switching ingredients, the flipping of pages took a bit of time. Success:
The basic begins with 4 pounds yielding 3 pints. This is easily multiplied for larger quantities, at which point drop cut fruit into 2 Tbs vinegar, 2Tbs salt to a gal. water to keep from turning brown.
4 lbs. ripe pears
6 cups sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
In a piece of cheesecloth or small bag,
2 sticks Cinnamon
2 tsp. Coriander Seeds
a blade of mace
6 whole Allspice
Tie these together in the cheesecloth
Peel, core and cut fruit into bite size pieces. Using a sauce pan or pot, add sugar, lemon juice and spice bag or bundle with the pears. Simmer slowly, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon to keep from sticking for about 45 minutes. Skim as needed. The house will smell marvelously.
While the pears are preserving, sterilize jars. Instead of pints, you might want to use half pints simply due to the amount you want open in the refrigerator at one time.
A lesson learned as a child about that simmering time. Once a neighbor gave Daddy a grocery bag full of pears. His mother was one of those Southern cooks that could make a dish towel into a magnificent meal; hence, naturally he was convinces his observances would translate into the same results. Well ........... bless his heart, after some hours of simmering, at long last we jarred the sticky, stiff substance. Once cooled, nothing would do but have a taste. Suddenly confusion and frustration reigned ..... "I've watched her make jellies and preserves for years AND I did exactly what she does, what went wrong??" Mother and I decided the difference; we could not coax Daddy's out of the jar. I suspect my mother still has, in the back of her pantry, a jar or two of road patch.
With that thought, throughout the simmering time, remove a piece of fruit to a saucer, allow to cool and check for stiffness.... al dente works. Enjoy, it's really grand on fresh made biscuits or as the filling in puff pastry for a quick dessert.
Fruit substitutions we've used: fresh peaches, dried apricots .......... so Feast Ya'll