Last week our local Waitrose supermarket pears ordering system seemed to have had a mad moment. By the weekend they had crates and crates of pears for sale at 19p per kilo to get rid of them. How wonderful, for we love pears. Time to dig out the Pear & Vanilla Butter Recipe.
It’s unusual for us to have a lot of pears in March. Usually the lovely Gordon of Uckfield, found through Freegle, allows us to come and pick his pears in the Autumn. (More about our Freecycle fruit adventures here). But wherever the pears have come from, I like to make Pear and Vanilla recipes because they go beautifully together. Pear and Vanilla Crumble is another favourite, I’ll post my recipe for that another day. But this weekend I made Pear and Vanilla Butter.
What is a Fruit Butter?
If you haven’t had a fruit butter before, you’re in for a treat. Fruit butters are quite an old fashioned concept, and they (happily) seem to be coming back into style. Butters have a thick, super-soft spreading consistency like… well… butter. Absolutely delish on scones, sour dough toast or your morning porridge. Or dolloped in the middle of your homemade rice pudding. Or just on a spoon really. Yum.
Butters keep well for up to about 3 months but, once you’ve opened the jar, it’s best kept in the fridge. Though it won’t last long because, once you’ve opened it, you’ll want to eat it. It also makes a lovely gift to give away.
This butter recipe uses quite a lot of fruit. It gives a smaller yield than a jam would, but the beautiful concentrated fresh fruit flavour is well worth it. Plus if you have a glut of pears in your garden – or your local supermarket – what’s not to like?
Pear and Vanilla Butter Recipe Notes
- When you peel, core and chop your pears, use them immediately afterwards. They don’t like sitting around and once peeled they’ll start to go brown.
- You can use a Vanilla Pod OR 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Bean Paste in this recipe. The paste feels like a bit of a cheat, but I had some in the cupboard and it worked well.
- The recipe calls for approximately 400g granulated sugar. The exact amount will depend on how much puree your pears produce. However much you end up needing, warm the sugar for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave until just above room temperature. This helps it to dissolve more quickly when it hits the pear puree.
- You will be testing your butter on a cold plate to check when it is ready. If it holds its shape, it’s done. Butters don’t behave like jelly or jam. They don’t wrinkle, they just stay in shape when they’re ready rather than collapsing when they hit the plate.
This Pear and Vanilla Butter Recipe is adapted from the one in The Complete Book of Preserves and Pickles by Catherine Atkinson. It makes about 675g/1.5lb, though sometimes less depending on the pears.
Pear and Vanilla Butter Recipe
- 900 g Fresh Pears Peeled, Cored and Chopped
- 3 Lemons Juiced
- 300 ml Water
- 1 Vanilla Pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 400 g Granulated Sugar Exact amount will depend on volume of pear puree produced. Warmed to just above room temperature
- Put the chopped pears, lemon juice, water and vanilla pod/paste into a large pan.
- Bring it to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Then take the cover off and continue cooking uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the pears are soft.
- If using a vanilla pod, remove, then scrape the seeds into the pears using a knife and discard the pod.
- Using a stick blender, puree the fruit mixture in the pan or put it through a blender/food processor. Then press the puree through a fine sieve into a bowl and measure how much puree you have.
- Put the fruit back into the pan adding 275g/10oz warmed sugar for every 600ml/1 pint of puree.
- Put a saucer into the freezer.
- Stir the mixture over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, don’t be tempted to leave it in case the sugar burns on the bottom of the pan [done that]. Increase the heat and boil for 10-15 minutes, stirring all the time.
- To test when it’s ready, put a small amount of puree on to your cold plate. If it holds its shape, it’s done.
- Spoon the butter into warmed, sterilised jars. Seal, label and store in a cool dark place for about 2 days by which time the flavours will have melded together perfectly.
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