Somehow “inspired” by a few leftover and now overripe pears I decided to preserve them and make a pear jelly for breakfasts and in parallel a pear paste – a perfect addition to rich and creamy blue cheese and a glass of wine in the evening. The handy thing with this recipe is that you can stretch the preparation over a few days. So if you are home late in the evening or out of the sudden not in the mood to spend your time in the kitchen, you can go on the other day…
By the way: this recipe is very similar to the way I usually preserve quinces and it works with apples as well (just bear in mind that apples and quinces contain a lot of pectin, which means that the jelly will coagulate easily and therefore the cooking time needs to be shorter).
- approx. 3 -5 ripe (or overripe) pears, stipe and core removed, quartered
- 1 ripe apple (optional, there was a leftover in our kitchen as well), treated the same way as the pears
- 1 organic lemon (or lime), washed, cut into thick slices
- a tea bag or piece of muslin filled with a mix of pimento (3 – 4 corns), cloves (2 pieces) and thyme (approx. 1 tsp.), securely sealed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 kg jam sugar per one litre fluid for the jelly
- 1 kg sugar per one kg fruit purée for the paste (you can use white sugar, brown sugar or jam sugar…I made a mix, because we had not enough of each at home. I think 1/3 jam sugar combined with 2/3 other sugar works well, it´s all just a matter of cooking time)
Simply cover the pears, the apple, the lemon slices and the little spice sack scantily with filtered water (In Germany we never filtered our water, but here in Melbourne the tab water tastes chlorinated) in a large pot and bring the mixture to boil. Immediately reduce the heat and let everything simmer for approx. 20 minutes. Let the ansatz cool down and add the cinnamon stick afterwards (if you like a strong cinnamon taste, add the stick before cooking, but I like to have just a hint of cinnamon flavour to underline the pears own taste). Cover the pot with a lid and store at room temperature until the next day.
If you´ve decided that today is not the day – store the pot in the fridge until you pluck up courage. Otherwise go on: Divide the fruit pieces from the juice by draining them through a sieve. Don´t squeeze the fruit pieces, you want a clear liquid. Place a small plate into the freezer to test the gel point of the jelly later and sterilize twist off –jars (see jam session 1). For the pear jelly bring the juice and the jam sugar to boil (As previously described in jam session 1 the jam sugar in Australia is somehow much sweeter than the German one, so I used only one kg jam sugar per one litre of fluid instead of one kg sugar per 800 ml fluid and cooked the jelly longer) and cook the jelly following the protocol on your jam sugar package (typically four minutes). To check the gel point place a small amount of the hot jelly onto the iced plate and decide hereafter whether your jelly is ready or not – I like a consistency that allows the jelly to wobble around a bit on my bread instead of being too chunky. Fill the hot jelly into the sterilized jars and turn them upside down to create a vacuum inside.
Don´t forget to turn them back before they cool completely down, otherwise the jelly will stick on the lid.
For the pear paste remove all pieces of lemon and all spices from the cooked pear and apple pieces and purée the fruits finely using an immersion blender. Add one kg sugar per one kg fruit purée and bring everything to boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat and cook the mixture for approx. 40 minutes stirring occasionally and making sure that the paste doesn´t burn. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves for this part as the hot and sticky paste can easily burn your hands and arms. The paste will become harder to stir and will get a deep golden-brown colour. When the mixture seems to be sticky enough, pour into a greased loaf pan, flat the surface as good as it gets and allow everything to cool down completely. If you realize that the paste is still too watery you can dry it further in the oven on a gentle heat (e.g. the next day). Store the block in the fridge, but take out in advance to serve at room temperature with your favourite cheese.
PS: If you cook the paste even longer until very, very sticky and combine it with walnuts you can alternatively prepare a pear & walnut “bread”. Just fill the hot mixture onto a greased baking paper, form a roll and let it cool down in the fridge – delicious!