Friday, August 13, 2010

Pear and Vanilla Butter

Jam, preserves, jellies, marmalades? Conserve, spread, curd, butter? I'm sure you are familiar with these but do you know the difference among them?  I'm sure you do, but I'm a bit confused when it comes to jam and preserves, jellies and spread, curd and butter?  Well, these are explained in the book "50 Step-By-Step Homemade Preserves"  by Maggie Mayhew.  I bought this book mainly because it is cheap and I have not tried making jam before.  So this would be great start to test out my jam-making adventure.  This book has only less than 100 pages but there's beautiful photographs for every recipe.  The first recipe which I have made many times is Dried Apricot Jam, which is really good.   Can anyone suggest any good books on preserves, pickles and canning? 

Here are a brief excerpt from the above book:
Preserves : The art of preserving foods such as jam, jellies and other sweet preserves.
Jam : Jams are usually made with whole or cut fruit, jam should have distinct flavour, bright colour and soft set.
Conserves : These are very similar to jams, but they have a slightly softer set and contain whole or large pieces of fruits. The fruit is first mixed with sugar and sometimes a little liquid, then allowed to stand for several hours or even days.  The sugar draws out the juices from the fruit, making it firmer and minimizing the cooking time needed.
Jellies : Jellies are made using the juice strained from simmered fruit, which is then boiled with sugar to setting point.There is very little preparation of fruit, other than giving it a quick rinse and roughly chopping larger fruit, but you do need to allow plenty of time to make the jelly itself.  The secret to a beautifully clear jelly lies in straining the fruit pulp through a jelly bag, drip by drip, which takes several hours.
Marmalades : This preserve consists of a jelly base, usually with small pieces of fruit suspended in it. The name marmalade is derived from the Portuguese word marmelo, meaning quince, and it was from this fruit that marmalades were first made.  Modern marmalades are usually made from citrus fruits, or citrus fruits combined with other fruits such as pineapple, or flavoured with aromatic spices.  Marmalades can range from thick and dark to light and translucent.
Fruit Curds : Fruit curds are usually made with the juice of citrus fruits, but other acidic fruits such as passion fruit may be used.  The juice and puree is heated with eggs, butter and sugar until thick.
Fruit Butter : Smoother and thicker than jam, fruit butters have a spreadable quality not unlike dairy butter.  Many recipes also contain a small amount of butter.
Fruit Cheeses : These sweet, firm preserves are known as cheeses because they are stiff enough to be cut into slices or wedges rather like their dairy counterparts.  They may be made either from fresh fruit, or from the pulp left from making jellies.
Bottled Fruits : This is a traditional method of preserving fruit in syrup.

So far, so good?..... Alright, I think I know the basics now,  here's the delicious part.  Making Pear and Vanilla Butter....

I bought half-ripen pears.  They are slightly soft but not mushy, and very sweet!

 Bring to a boil, as in Step 1

Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, as in Step 5, mixture will get very hot as it boils.  Use a small but deep saucepan and use a wooden ladle with a long handle to avoid hurting your hands from the heat. (don't ask me how I knew!).  Did you notice the different wooden spoon from the photo below???

As mixture continues to boil and thickens, the mixture will splatter now and then, though it is only a few drops, it is very, very, hot, ouch!  Wear an oven glove or mitten! (again, don't ask me how I knew!) .......  Even though, the recipes says, stir for about 15 minutes, I did mine for about 30 minutes, (maybe because I use very little sugar, it takes a longer time to caramelize and thickens!

Phew, at last, it's done! Can you see the speckled vanilla seeds.
Time to store this in a cool, dark place for at least 2 days! 

(my notes : I only use about 230gm sugar.  I can really taste the sourness from the lemon and sweetness from the sugar,but not much taste of the pears.  Will wait for it to mature for a few days and we'll see!)

Update 3 days later :  This was my breakfast

The taste does gets better after a few days, BUT, I can really taste the sourness from the lemons, I'm going to reduce the lemons to 2 instead of 3 IF I make this again, it will definitely reduce the pectin from the lemons, may have to add some liquid or powdered pectin.  The sweetness is just right, even though I used a small amount of sugar, I can taste its sweetness.  Overall, this pear butter is not too bad, I wouldn't say it is fantastic, but it is OK.  I prefer the dried apricot jam!

Pear and Vanilla Butter
(adapted from "50 Step-By-Step Homemade Preserves" by Maggie Mayhew)
The delicate flavour of pears is enhanced by vanilla in this butter that really captures the essence of the fruit.  It is well worth allowing it to mature for a few days before eating.
Makes about 675gm/1-1/2 lb
Ingredients :
900gm/2lb pears, peeled cored and chopped
juice of 3 lemons
300ml/1/2 pint/1-1/4 cups water
1 vanilla pod (bean), split
675gm/1-1/2 lb/scant 3-1/2 cups granulated sugar, warmed

Method :
  1. Place the pears in a large pan with the lemon juice, water and vanilla pod.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Uncover the pan and continue cooking for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pears are very soft.
  2. Remove the vanilla pod from the pan, then carefully scrape the seeds into the fruit mixture using the tip of a knife.
  3. Tip the fruit and juices into a food processor or blender and blend to a puree.  Press the puree through a fine sieve (strainer) into a bowl.
  4. Measure the puree into a large heavy pan, adding 275gm/10oz/1-1/3 cups warmed sugar for every 600ml/1 pint/2-1/2 cups of puree.
  5. Stir the mixture over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat and boil for 15 minutes, stirring, until the mixture forms a thick puree that holds its shape when spooned on to a cold plate.
  6. Spoon the pear butter into small, warmed sterilized jars.  Seal, label and store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 days before serving.
Cook's Tips:
Fruit butters have a soft spreading consistency - thicker than fruit curds, but softer than fruit cheeses.  They make an excellent tea time preserve.
Fruit butters keep well in sealed jars and can be stored for up to 3 months.  Once opened, they should be stored in the refrigerator.


  1. Great information on the differences between jams, jellies, etc. I wonder about those sometimes myself! Your pear butter looks really yummy on that toast! I don't think that reducing the lemon juice would make much difference in the consistency- you shouldn't need any extra pectin for this. You may just have to cook it longer to get it to thicken. Butters like pear butter and apple butter usually rely on long cooking times to thicken them, as the water evaporates and the pulp gets thicker and thicker. A slow cooker is really good for making butters too. You also might try using very ripe fruit- it might give you a more pronounced pear flavor. It really looks and sounds good though! I've never used vanilla bean in butters or jams, and I think it would be delicious!
    (I left you a note on the pepper jam post.)

  2. wow Never saw fruit butter...breakfast time here...I am hungry!
    That 3rd last picture with the speckled vanilla seeds looks terribly GOOD!

  3. Hi scrambledhenfruit,
    Thank you so much for all the wonderful tips! I never thought of cooking it in the slow cooker! Will definitely try this next time. Yes, will definitely go for the ripe fruits the next time round! Thanks for the info on the pepper jam recipe. Will let you know!

  4. Hi Angie,
    Vanilla pods are great with almost anything, especially, vanilla ice-cream.

  5. Hi Akila,
    Welcome to my blog. Nice of you to stop by. Hope to see you again. Have a nice weekend!

  6. I'm new here and found you through Autumn Belle's blog. Yummy that pear and vanilla butter looks delicious! I love to bake, cook, and garden as well. Fresh ingredients from the garden is best. Have a great Friday :)

  7. I really love fruit butter! I'm so impressed you made your own. It sounds scrumptious!

  8. Hi Priscilla,
    Welcome to my kitchen! Yes, I can see that you love to cook, you have great recipes in your blog, and a beautiful garden of homegrown veggies! Fresh from the garden is definitely THE best! Do stop by again. Have a great weekend!

  9. Hi Reeni
    Thank you. Making fruit butter certainly takes a little bit of extra work, but the results are worth the effort!

    Hi Cath J,
    Thank you. Have a nice weekend!

  10. Looks amazing...just love fruit butters, and these flavors are perfect. Lovely site, glad to find you :)

  11. Hi Magic of Spice,
    Welcome to my blog! Nice of you to stop by. Thank you for your kind comment. You have a lovely site too, I've just hopped over to yours. Hope to see you again. Have a nice day.