Working in a doctor's office, there are lots of people around who I'd like to give Christmas presents to, like the nurses who work on my pod, the secretaries who order us lunch everyday, our residency coordinator who fills out paperwork for us, etc. But I don't want to spend lots of money, because it starts to add up. This year I decided to make some Pear butter, which just sounded tastier to me than apple butter. Instead of orange zest and juice, I added lemon juice because that is what I had. I'm sure this would work great in a crock pot. I also don't have a food mill so I just used my blender.
4 pounds medium pears, quartered and cored
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice
Place pears into a large pot over medium heat, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and keep them from sticking, about 1/2 cup. Cook until the pears are soft, about 30 minutes. Press pears through a sieve or food mill, and measure out 2 quarts of the pulp.
Pour the pear pulp and sugar into a large saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in the orange zest, nutmeg and orange juice. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to mound in a spoon. When the mixture begins to thicken, stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom. This will take about 1 hour.
Ladle the pear butter into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a metal spatula around where the pear butter touches the glass. Wipe jar rims clean, and seal with lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. The water should cover the jars by 1 inch. Check with your local extension for exact processing times for your area.
Keep all the peelings, cores, and leftover pieces of fruit that does not go into the pan, and these you can turn into Pear Honey
Place all the good leftover pieces in a pot and cover with water. Simmer gently over medium heat for 20-30 minutes until the juice has turned a nice brown color. Drain through a cheesecloth.
Measure this syrup and combine it with half as much sugar in a pot, and boil slowly until it thickens to the consistency of honey. (This will take a while. I actually stopped before it was quite this thick, but it thickened up even more once it is in the fridge.)
Pour into jars and process the same as the pear butter.
Now, you have plenty of beautiful and delicious jars to give away as gifts, and have even used up all the goodness from the pears, creating an inexpensive but nice gift. That definitely works for me.