I had a difficult time deciding what to call my latest pear creation. I really wanted to call it "The Best Brown Sugar~Vanilla Bean Pear Butter I've Ever Made" but it wouldn't fit in the title section.
First things first...start with ripe Bartlett pears.
This is not the time to use green or unripe Bartlett pears, even though they have their place in certain wonderful recipes, like Pear-Ginger Marmalade, which I'll be writing about next week.
To make Brown Sugar~Pear Butter, you want a few perfectly-ripe golden-hued Bartlett pears. I adore the delightful fragrance of ripening pears, so I leave them on the counter where I can enjoy their scent.
No need to peel the pears when making fruit butter. Just cut the pears in quarters lengthwise; cut out the cores too. Place them in a heavy-bottomed pan that has a tight-fitting lid.
Add a very small amount of water. Example: For 3 pounds of pears I only used 1/4 cup of water and it was plenty.
These pears are naturally juicy and will make lots of sweet succulent liquid on their own during the cooking process. Keep them covered for this first step too...it will keep the moisture in.
Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the pears soften. They might not look soft...
...but apply some firm pressure with a potato masher or a big spoon, and they'll turn to mush, which is exactly what you want. After about 15 seconds of mashing, your pears should look like this:
Don't worry about a little ol' thing like a stray pear seed. We're going to run the cooked pear mush through a food mill anyway...
...and all the skin & seeds will soon be separated from the yumminess you want to keep for your Brown Sugar-Pear Butter.
It will only take a few minutes of cranking on the food mill to separate skins (and any errant seeds) from the good stuff.
...and 3 cups of pear puree, which I measured so I would know how much brown sugar to add to make Brown Sugar-Pear Butter.
No matter how many pears you use, you'll want to measure the puree...
...then add half that amount of brown sugar. So for 3 cups of pear puree I added 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar.
And one half of a vanilla bean...
...plus assorted ground spices...
...then stir together to blend, and simmer for approximately one hour, or until it's thick, rich and delicious.
This Brown Sugar-Pear Butter is so irresistible you'll want to eat it right off the spoon. Go ahead...do it!
Don't forget to remove the vanilla bean...
Rinse any traces of pear butter off the vanilla bean, then set it aside to dry. You can use the still-intact* vanilla bean a second time, for infusing sugar, booze, or another batch of preserves. Even though it's been used for cooking, it will still contain quite a lot of flavor.
*If you love vanilla as much as I do, you might decide to split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the seeds into your fruit butter, which would make for some intense vanilla flavor. If you use the "split & scrape method" you won't want to re-use the vanilla bean.
I have a few more fresh-picked Bartlett pears on the counter waiting to be preserved, and in a matter of days they'll turn from green to golden. I can hardly wait. The next time I'll scrape the zillion tiny seeds from my vanilla bean for another version of this recipe; one I'll probably call "Very Vanilla-y Pear Butter".
The time is ripe for pears, so check out USA Pears for more information about enjoying the many varieties of delicious pears available now!