Pear Butter

Historic cookbooks usually include many recipes for preserving fruits and other seasonal produce. This recipe, with pears, apple cider, and spices, is perfect for Fall.

Like many of the other recipes from her 1839 book The Kentucky Housewife, the author Lettice Bryan does not give any amounts or measurements in this recipe, leaving that up to the cook. I have listed the amounts I used, but the recipe is fairly flexible and can be adjusted to taste.

Pear Butter (no measurements are given in the recipe, but there are the amounts I used):

  • 2 1/2 pounds pears, pared, cored, and cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup cider
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp mace
  1. Heat the cider until it is reduced to about 1/2 cup.
  2. Add the pears and simmer over low heat until the pears are soft.
  3. Mash the pears into a pulp, either by hand or with a blender.
  4. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, cloves, and mace.
  5. Keep cooking the mixture over low heat, stirring frequently, until it is thick.
  6. If you want to keep the pear butter for a long time, use proper canning procedures; or, if you’re lazy like me, just slop it into jars and then eat it within two weeks.

Tasting notes:

This reminds me of apple butters I have made in the past, but it has a much more delicate and subtle flavor. It’s best spread on fairly neutral-flavored breads (such as Buttermilk Biscuits or Mrs. Macnab’s Scones) to let the pear flavor shine – or you can just eat it with a spoon like applesauce. I used just a hint of spice, so as not to overwhelm the pear, but of course you could add more if you prefer.

I didn’t want to go through the process of canning, so I just made about 3 jars of pear butter to be consumed within a few weeks. If you have a lot of pears, a lot of jars, and a lot of time, by all means make a much larger quantity! It would be a great way to enjoy fall flavors throughout the year.

References:

Bryan, L. (1839). The Kentucky housewife. Cincinnati: Shepard & Stearns. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Kentucky_Housewife/RERv9slqYUsC?hl=en&gbpv=1

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