Friday, September 23, 2011

Pear Ginger Perfection

It's pear season.    

I heart pears.  

Mostly, I heart pears in Pear Ginger Jam.

I heart Pear Ginger Jam. 

This year, I got some pears right off of my mom's tree.   I've never picked pears before.  We usually get them from generous friends.

When we saw them ripening on the tree, my first question was:  How do you know when they're ripe?    None of us knew, so I looked it up.

I heart Google.

Turns out that pears ripen from the inside out.    That means that by the time they're soft on the tree, they're way too ripe in the middle.     You have to pick them before they get soft.

But when?

When they've gone from rock hard to just a bit of give when you push your thumb on it.    Hold it in your hand and put your thumb on it.   Push.   If there's a bit of give, it's OK to pick. 

Also,  pears hang down on their stems.   If you hold the pear and lift it up horizontally, the stem should separate from the tree easily.    If the pear doesn't come off easily, then leave it.  

It's true.   Want to read more?  Go here or here.  Note:  Bosc and Asian pears behave differently.  If you're picking those, then do more research.

Because I have No Patience when it comes to ripening fruit in boxes all over my house [remind me someday to tell you about the year we had a box of pears rot on the floor because we forgot about them.   The wood floor is permanently stained.   It's an attractive stain, but it would have been nicer if it were that color all over the floor and not just where the box was.]  I cook my pears right away now.

Yes, I cut them when they're too hard to cut.   I risk life and limb and digit trying to carve out the core.  Then I put them in a big pot with some water and cook the living daylights out of them until they're really really soft. 

Then I make Pear Ginger Jam.   Because I heart Pear Ginger Jam.

Really.   Just look at that picture.   Do you blame me?    It's perfection in a jar.

Pear Ginger Jam

  • 5 or 6 cups of cooked pears.   Cooked until they're soft. 
  • 3 T Ball pectin [1 pkg]
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped as fine as you want.
Combine the pears and pectin.   Bring to hard boil.  Boil one minute.   Add sugar and candied ginger.  Return to hard boil.  Boil one minute.    Ladle into jars and process for canning.

Troubleshooting:   First a confession.   Often, I have too much fruit for a recipe.   I try to add as much fruit and as little pectin as I can get away with.    This time was no exception.   And whoops! my jam didn't set.  It got sort of thickened, but not jam like.   I figured that it just didn't get hot enough in the pot I was using. 

Tip:  Use a pot with a wide bottom - more surface area next to the heat source.

We kept some of the non thick stuff to use for pancake topping.   The rest I took out of the jars and dumped back in a pot and heated it until it reached a hard boil and I let it boil for a few minutes.   I could tell that it had finished thickening.   I poured it back into the jars [I did lose some volume because more of the water boiled out of the jam], put new lids on and sealed them again.    Perfect thick jam.

My point is this.   Experiment if you want to.   Don't panic if things don't come out perfectly.   It's not a contest.  There is no Permanent Record.  It's food.   It's supposed to be fun.  If you use your head and adjust things a bit, you can probably fix it.  Ask around, join a forum like the one at Chickens in the Road, or ask me in a comment.    Chances are someone will have some tip to help you. 

Happy preserving!


  1. Wow, that sounds and looks good. I once made pear chutney and LOVED that.

    Have you tried any spices other than ginger with your pear jam? I love ginger, wondered if something else would be as tasty.

  2. We only grow Asian pears and I don't think I can make jam with it since it's so firm. Will have to get hubby to agree to growing non-Asian pears. :)

  3. I love pears and wait for them to hit the markets every year. The first batch is usually a bit expensive, and never lasts more than a few days - I just gobble them up and may not eat anything else for a day or two. By the time the prices have dropped I've usually regained some control over my "addiction".


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