Monday, September 26, 2011

Vanilla Chai Pear Butter

The other day I wasn't feeling so good.  It was raining, I had a headache, and I had to run a lot of errands when I would have rather been snuggled up inside reading a book and drinking hot tea.  When I finally got home after running the errands I was determined to do something that I wanted to do. What I wanted to do at that moment was make pear butter.

I have fond memories of eating preserved pears right out of the jar when I was a young child.  The syrupy sweetness and softness of the canned pears was my favorite part.  Even though my mom only canned the pears from our tree (or anywhere) once I still remember eating them to this day, more than fifteen years later. I've learned the hard way not to try and re-create the memories of things from my childhood (often ends in disappointment) but I decided to honor those memories with this pear butter.

Vanilla Chai Pear Butter (Yields  four 8oz jars)
8 Pears (I used 4 Bosc and 4 Bartlett)
1.5 inches of cinnamon stick
6 cardamom seeds
Juice of one lemon
1/4 to 1/2 C. Honey or vegan sugar (adjust depending on how sweet you like it)
2 t. Vanilla Extract

1. Peel and core the pears.  Cut into small chunks and put in a crock pot.
2. Add the cinnamon stick and cardamom to the crock pot and allow to simmer for several hours until the pears are very soft.  Remove the cinnamon and cardamom when you are happy with the taste/aroma.  I left mine in for around 3 hours but you may want more or less flavor.
3. Allow pears to cool slightly then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.  You may have to do this in a few batches, be careful of blending hot things!
4.  Return butter to the crock pot and continue to reduce if necessary. Add the vanilla. If the consistency is how you would like it simply heat the butter until it is just shy of boiling and then put in canning jars.  Water bath can for 15 minutes.

Notes: I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not to water bath these after canning.  I have made fruit butters many times and not always water bath canned them after. For safety I would put these in a water bath though.  Better safe than sorry!  I'm lucky if the butters last longer than six months since I usually give them away as gifts.  I also use very very ripe pears for this recipe.  Should you not want to can this butter you can allow it to cool and freeze it.  Enjoy!

Five Minute Applesauce

I like applesauce. I think it's natures candy and I love it. It's simply one more thing in life that I greatly appreciate. 

Unfortunately I think the stuff they sell at the store is only good for baking and instead I buy apples and make my own.  There is one thing that Michigan does really really well, and that is growing apples.  So when I saw Michigan apples at the store on sale I bought two bags.  This recipe is super easy, takes 5 minutes, tastes like you spent all day making it, and can be stored in the fridge for quite a while (if there are leftovers).

Five Minute Applesauce
6-7 medium sized apples, cut off the core (no need to remove the skins, adds some texture)
Cinnamon, to taste
Maple syrup (optional, depending on the apples it could be plenty sweet without)
Pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 C. Water

1. Put everything in your blender.  If its having trouble blending you can add more water, but not too much!
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Heat in a sauce pan over the stove until warm (do not boil!) Enjoy!

Notes: If you made too much and you want to store some I put hot applesauce in mason jars with fresh lids and as they cool they suction the lids down.  The applesauce is safe like this for a few days, after that put it in the fridge where its good for a few weeks.  I use this in baking instead of eggs or to give things more moisture, and also use it as a topping for my Easiest Ever Ice Cream.