Spiced Pear Jam

I have never liked eating fresh fruit. I don’t know why. My daughters and husband are nuts for it – we go through two bags of apples, 20 bananas and a cantaloupe every week in addition to whatever other fruit I pick up for them.  The exception for me is pears.  I love everything about them – the shape, color, scent, flavor, texture, you name it.

Last week my store had pears on sale for less than $1/lb which seemed like the perfect opportunity to grab some and make something fun. While the end result was terrific, it was an uncomfortable and occasionally painful route getting there.

To begin, I got the recipe from Fun Home Things.  This is just the kind of recipe I like – no unnecessarily pretentious ingredients or arrogantly complex instructions. My general philosophy about food is:  get the best ingredients you can and do your best to keep it simple and not ruin them. This recipe plays nicely into that idea.

The ingredients:

  • 4 c. peeled and chopped pears
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Box Pectin
  • 1/4 c. Water
  • 5 c. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
Here’s the How To (a cautionary tale):
  • Prepare canning equipment.  Ok, so here’s where my issues began. Everything was fine and working just as it should as I heated up my water and jars, etc. But…I chose a really muggy evening to make this and my kitchen has crank open windows so a fan wasn’t really an option. Sweaty? You betcha…and it only got worse when the water came to a boil.  I was HOT and damp.
  • Combine pears, lemon juice, water and spices in a pot.  Whisk in pectin and bring to a full boil.(Pan number two full of steamy boiling stuff only added to the generally tropical atmosphere of my kitchen.)
  • Add sugar all at once and return to a full boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. (Ok, now standing over and actively stirring a boiling pot of jam did nothing to make me more comfortable.  The fact that I had the heat too high initially and it was spitting molten jam (ouch!) at me didn’t make me very happy either.)
  • Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Wipe rims and secure lids. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. (It was around this time that Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar On Me earwormed into my head, “I’m hot, sticky sweet…”)
  • After removing the jars from the water to cool, I thought the best thing I could do to help the heat in the kitchen was to get rid of the boiling water.  It was when I was (I thought carefully) dumping out the water that I hit my arm with the pot acquiring a nice burn.  I retreated to the blissfully cool living room with a freeze pop that I intermittently ate and pressed to my arm while picking of dried globs of jam from my skin and clothing.

The good news is this jam is really delicious and as far as gelling and appearance I think is my best effort to date and well worth any discomfort or injury!

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