There has been successful canning at my house! About a week ago I mentioned the pear butter I had attempted to make with the asian pears from my mom’s house. Sadly, I had made pear sauce (like apple sauce) because the cookbook I was using didn’t specify times. And who knew you need to simmer the pear sauce for multiple hours to get pear butter?
I didn’t know that, but now I do. After doing some research online, I discovered it’s possible to make life a little easier, at least when making pear butter, by enlisting the help of a slow cooker. This revolutionized my fruit butter canning. Basically, I made the pear sauce by cooking a stock pot full of peeled, cored, and halved pears in about an inch of water. With the lid on, it took about 30-45 minutes for the pears to get soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork. You roughly blend the mixture with either a food processor or immersion blender. Voila – pear sauce.
Next: enter slow cooker. The pear sauce goes in the slow cooker with whatever else you want to flavor it with. Instead of the traditional sugar, I added a couple cups of honey. I threw in nutmeg, allspice and cloves. My first batch was cooked for about 12 hours total on low. The first 8 hours were overnight, so it was left unattended, with the lid partially on. The next morning I stirred the mixture maybe once an hour, or every other hour, but just abandoned the lid altogether to cook it down faster.
I really wanted my pear butter to be thick and spreadable like, you know, butter. After several hours, it did get to the thickness my original recipe described – where you can mound it on a spoon and it doesn’t lose it’s shape. Once the outlying ring of liquid disappears when it’s resting, you know you are getting close.
When it was all an evenly thick spreadable mixture, I filled the clean jars within 1/4″ of the top, put my lids in place, screwed on the rings, then put in a hot-water bath for about 10 minutes. All my lids made that wonderful “pop” sound that lets you know you did everything right!
The second batch I made went a little faster because I set the slow cooker on high. I was around the house more to stir every hour or so, since you don’t want anything to get burned on the bottom with the higher heat. There is much less of a chance of anything burning though in the slow-cooker than directly on the stove, where you need to stir fairly frequently for a few hours.
There was a little leftover that didn’t fit into a whole jar, which we are enjoying here at home. I can see what a welcomed treat this will be come February, when you only vaguely recall those flavors of summer. It tastes like fall in a jar – rich, deeply flavorful, and comforting.