It was a great summer for peaches in the Portland area. I kept picking or buying 20 or 30 at a time (or 54!), and wondering how I was going to get through them all, and then before I knew it, they’d be gone!
We enjoyed peach cobbler, peach dutch baby, fresh juicy peaches eaten out of hand, and of course, my favorite way to preserve them is in a peach compote. Peaches go so well with warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom, and their juiciness makes them a great candidate for a saucy compote to spoon over waffles, ice cream, yogurt, and so on.
(Yield: 2 or 3 pint jars)
- 3 pounds of peeled peaches
- 1 – 2 cups of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Slice the peeled peaches into eighths and then halve or third each slice, so that you have roughly one inch chunks. Add the peaches to a heavy-bottomed large pot, along with the sugar and spices. You can adjust the sugar according to taste.
- Bring the peaches to a simmer over medium heat and stir occasionally. Continue cooking until the juices start to thicken somewhat, but don’t let it cook so long that it becomes jam! Total cooking time will be between 20 and 30 mins.
- While the peaches are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and wash your jars, lids, and rings.
- Spoon the fruit into the washed jars leaving about a 1/4 inch of headspace. Then attach lids and rings and place filled jars into pot of boiling water. Make sure tops of jars are covered by water.
- Process the jars for 5 mins. and remove from the pot and cool on a rack.
My daughter refers to my pear butter as “Beau bear cheek butter,” because it’s as silky smooth and delicious as her baby cousin’s cheeks! But you don’t have to just take our word for it — pear butter is easy to make at home on your own! Since it cooks down quite a bit, I recommend making a batch when you have at least 4 pounds of pears, but you could easily cook more. I also enjoy spicing it up quite a bit, with vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc., but you can use as much or as little of these as you like, or have on hand.
(makes about 5 half-pint jars)
- 4 – 5 pounds of ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered (this produced 7 cups puree)
- lemon juice to prevent the cut fruit from browning (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups – 2 1/2 cups of brown sugar*
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
* Note: White sugar works fine too, or you can do a mix of brown and white sugars. I recommend starting with the smaller quantity of sugar and then adding it by the 1/2 cup as needed.
- Place pears in a large pot with optional lemon juice, and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 45 mins. to an 1 hr.
- When pears are soft but before they break apart, strain pears and puree in blender or food processor. Pour out the cooking water. Return puree to pot. (Although I started with the pear pieces in a crockpot, I ended up transferring the puree to a big dutch oven on the stovetop, which reduced the liquid a lot faster.)
- Add spices and sugar to puree and stir. Heat to a low bubbling simmer and stir occasionally until mixture thickens. This will take about an hour, but depends on the surface area of your pot, and level of heat. The butter will be smooth, and drip slowly from a spoon when it’s done.
- While pear butter is cooking, prep your canning jars, lids, and rings according to manufacturer’s instructions. Heat a large pot of water to a boil.
- When the pear butter is done cooking, pour into jars leaving about a 1/4 inch of head space. Place lids and rings on jars and lower into the pot of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the lids and boil jars for about 5 mins. Remove from the water and let cool on a rack.