Saturday, September 4, 2010

One Of Those Moments

Do you ever have one of those moments -- as you stand in the kitchen on a Saturday morning, peeling, chopping, stirring, cursing, covering, pureeing, and rue-ing the day the pear was made -- when you wonder why you decided make pear butter?

Do you ever have one of those moments -- as your husband sits outside on a beautiful day, writing his sermon, sipping his coffee, drinking in the delightful morning that God hath made -- when you wonder how he got so darn lucky, to marry a girl like you?

Do you ever have one of those moments -- when you've already spent half your morning on a recipe -- and you realize you're missing one of the ingredients and suddenly, find yourself regretting the bad names you were calling your husband? Names like Pear Man and Cinnamon Boy and... Nut-meg (Oooooh, harsh).

I am having one of those moments, while making Carmeled Pear Butter.

What you'll need:

1/4 Cup apple juice
6 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
7 Pounds ripe pears
3 Cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 Teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 Teaspoon salt

Combine apple juice and 4 tablespoons lemon juice deep pot. Peel, core, and cut pears, 1 at a time, into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces; mix pears into juice mixture in pot as soon as pears are cut, to prevent browning. Cook over medium heat until pears release enough juice for mixture to boil, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pears are very tender, stirring every 3 minutes or so, for about 20 minutes (mixture will splatter). Remove pot from heat. Press pear mixture through fine plate of food mill into large bowl (which I did, but regret... next time I will use my blender). Return pear puree to pot. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until pear butter thickens and is reduced to 8 cups, stirring every 3 minutes to prevent scorching, for about 1 hour (yeah... I know... it's sort of insane).

Ladle pear butter into 8 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes.

Ever wonder why those jars of fruit butter -- in that speciality shop, where everything is overpriced, but you must walk out with something because the whole darn store is so inspiring -- are outrageously expensive? I'll tell you why. Labor.

Whew-wee. This process took, from start to finish, almost four hours. And made our house smell like Fall.

It has a great flavor (though I don't really "get" the hints of carmel) but is a little runnier than I would have liked. My husband gives the Pear Butter a B+ and I'd probably give it a B-, if for no other reason than the consistency.

So, do you ever have one of those moments -- as the end of summer draws near, and you've done your part to can and store the harvest -- when you start to run out of room in your cupboard, and wish ol' Nut-meg would build you a pantry?

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