Galician Pear Butter
Applesauce is one of the best-known and best-loved Jewish preserves because it is one of the two traditional toppings, the other being sour cream, for potato latkes. While there is nothing wrong with applesauce, this year, why not expand your culinary horizons and top your latkes with the delicate sweetness and creamy texture of Galician Pear Butter? Pears are in season from late summer through February, making December the perfect time to cook with these versatile fruits.
Pears have been a traditional ingredient in Ashkenazi cuisine for centuries. The Jews of Galicia and southern Russia were known for making a special tzimmes from apples, pears, figs and dried plums known as floymn tzimes. Indeed, pears are often combined with apples in Ashkenazi cuisine whether in tzimmes, haroset or preserves. I find, however, that apples overwhelm the delicate flavor of the pear. This smooth butter allows the pear to take center stage.
Despite the name “pear butter,” this recipe is dairy-free. Fruit butters are so called because their smooth, creamy texture resembles that of butter. With this recipe takes a bit of time to make, you can allow it to simmer away on a back burner while you putter around the kitchen. Just give it a stir every so often.
- 5 pounds pears, preferably Bartlett, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- Place the pears in a large stockpot and add a cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. (The boil may be hard to see because of the volume of fruit. Listen for the sound of large bubbles.) Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very soft and breaking down, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly. Puree the fruit using an immersion blender or, working in batches as necessary, transfer to a food processor and puree.
- Return the pear mixture to the stockpot, and add the sugar. Stir to combine, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the mixture simmer until it is reduced by about half and is quite thick, about 2 hours. It may bubble quite a bit; use a splatter screen on the pot as necessary. As it thickens, stir more frequently to prevent scorching. When the butter is much thicker, and will mound on a spoon without giving off juices, it is done.
- From The Joys of Jewish Preserving by Emily Paster, © 2017 Quarto Publishing Group. Used by permission from the publisher, Harvard Common Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group. QuartoKnows.com. All photographs by Leigh Olson.