I recently had a hankering for pear jam. I am not sure why as I have never actually had pear jam. In fact, I realised that I have never actually seen it for sale anywhere either. I have no doubt that it is out there somewhere (and I am probably just totally unobservant), but it does not appear to be an obvious preserve. When I mentioned to Mr GF that I thought I would make some, he looked at me strangely and suggested there may be a reason why it wasn't freely available in the shops..... was it that it wouldn't actually work?
Not one to be put off by such silly negativity, I decided to make some anyway and here it is!
Actually I am really chuffed with it. It was incredibly easy to make and tastes fantastic. Made with brown sugar it has a wonderful caramel-tinged base which compliments the pear perfectly and gives it a distinctively decadent feel. I also paired the pear with ginger which made for a perfect combination of flavours..... little nibbles of warm chewy spice gently nudging against the sweet succulent fruit...... divine!
This preserve is versatile too. In addition to the usual jammy suspects of tarts and toast, I have also eaten it as a sweet mixer in yoghurt, with vanilla ice cream and in hot porridge. The porridge is particularly good and incredibly addictive....... a real winter treat.
It also works amazingly well with savoury stuff..... I have had it as an alternative to chutney in cheese sandwiches and munched it alongside sausage rolls too! Okay..... so I am weird (and known somewhat sceptically for enjoying sausage and marmalade sandwiches)..... but hey..... you only discover what you might like by trying!
I made this jam a couple of times, tweaking the measurements of sugar and ginger on the second go to get the balance just right. On the first trial, I used Conference pears which worked just fine, but there are many varieties of pear, so on the improved mix, I used a mingle of Comice and Concorde. All my pears were pretty firm, which I have subsequently found out is quite important if you want to get a good chunky texture. I friend of mine used the recipe with some really soft pears and ended up with a caramelly pear sauce! Not that pear sauce isn't a nice thing to have, but it wasn't quite as intended..... so if you want a preserve with a pieces of fruit, make sure the pears are still fairly crisp.
Those of you who regularly keep an eye on my blog, will have noticed that I have been a little slow in getting into the festive spirit this year. Life has felt like wading through treacle recently and to be honest, I am struggling to let the 'C' word in. With just a couple of weeks to go, I really need to get my head around the annual party season. I will, I promise.......
I know these photos are not really fitting to seasonal sparkle, but if you are wanting to pull something foodie together as a gifty offering, this jar of rich brown-sugared lusciousness may be just the thing!
You can use a food thermometer to check the cook point, but if you don't have one, you will be fine just judging the end point by appearance. I have worked it both ways and it was fine. It doesn't specifically need to be 'set'..... just thick and gloopy.
I am sharing this warming seasonal preserve with the following foodie linkies this month :
Tea Time Treats, with Lavender & Lovage (and the Hedgecombers). December's theme is Sugar & Spice, both of which are present and essential in this jar of loveliness.
Cook Once Eat Twice with Searching for Spice. Preserves are a perfect way to get the most out of your favourite fruits...... and this one can be eaten alongside a whole variety of foods.
Free from Fridays with the Free From Farmhouse.
Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.
Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too
Brown-Sugared Pear & Ginger Preserve (makes 2 standard jars (or 3 to 4 small jars)
1½ kilos firm pears (untrimmed weight) - peeled & cored (I used a combination of Comice and Concorde varieties, but I have also made with Conference pears which work well)
280g soft light brown sugar
100 ml fresh lemon juice (approx 2 large lemons)
75g crystallised ginger - cut into small cubes
- Prepare your jars by sterilising : Wash clean with warm soapy water and place both jars and lids separately on a cold baking tray. Place the tray in a cold oven and turn to 140 C/275 F/Gas 1. When the oven has reached temperature, leave the jars to sterilise for a further 20+ minutes, whilst you make your preserve. Take from the oven hot and fill straight away.
- Coarsely chop your peeled pears and place in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.
- Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Simmer, stirring frequently until the pears soften. Gently crush about half of the pears with the back of a fork or spoon, and leave the rest in chunks.
- Add the ginger and continue to simmer until the mixture thickens and becomes syrupy (the bubbles will also become larger and more 'gloopy'). You may wish to use a food thermometer and take the temperature to jam point (220°F/ 105°C). I used this method on my second batch just to be certain it was 'done'. However, on my first batch I just continued to boil until reduced and sticky and it was fine....... (just simmer a further 30 to 45 minutes). Remember to stir frequently to prevent burning or sticking.
- When your preserve has reached jam point or you are happy with the consistency, ladle into the sterilised jars and seal straight away. Leave to cool.
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