Friday, November 10, 2006

Not So Still Life With Pears

Tis the season for pears. I’ve been eating them au naturel. I’ve been cooking with them Sandra-Lee-Semi-Homemade-Cooking-Cheater-Style—I chopped a few up and simmered them with a bag of frozen raspberries, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of brown sugar, and plopped the mix into a quartered frozen Pillsbury pie crust, to make cute mini pies. I even made a Pear Ambrosia Facial, combining the pulp from one pear with a tablespoon each of cream and of honey, recipe courtesy of Janice Cox’s Natural Beauty for All Seasons. But the achievement I’m happiest about is … jam.

The desire to make jam was inspired by Chocolate & Zucchini. On her recommendation, I bought Mes Confitures and instantly started drooling over all the unique artisanal jam recipes in it. I’d never made jam before and was intimidated. But I figured if I started with a small batch, I couldn’t do that much damage. So for my first attempt, I made the Pear with Jasmine Mandarin Tea.

Pear With Jasmine Mandarin Tea
modified from Mes Confitures, by Christine Ferber


- Two cups pears. Approximately 3 pears. I used Bosch.
- ½ cup sugar
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tsp calcium water (see note below)
- 1 tsp pectin (see note below)
- ½ cup jasmine tea. I used the ridiculously expensive but worth it Grand Jasmin Mao Feng from my favorite tea shop, Le Palais des Thés.


Day One:

- Peel the pears, remove their stems, cut them in two, core them, and cut them into small dice.
- In a preserving pan (I used a regular saucepan), combine the pears, sugar, calcium water and lemon juice.
- Bring to a simmer and then pour into a bowl.
- Cover with a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

Day Two:

- Bring the mixture to a boil in a preserving pan. Skim, if necessary.
- Add pectin and continue cooking on high heat for about ten minutes, stirring gently. Skim carefully, if necessary.
- While mixture is cooking, make an infusion by pouring hot water over the tea and letting it steep for about three minutes.
- When ten minutes is up, add steeped tea to the jam and return to a boil.
- Check the set. I did this by putting a plate in the fridge. I dribbled a little of the mixture on the cold plate. When it quickly gelled, it was ready.
- Put jam into jars immediately and seal.

My jam has the texture of chutney. The jasmine flavor is subtle, and gives a nice aftertaste. To serve, I smeared cracked pepper water crackers with stinky Camembert and topped it with jam. My friend Michelle also came up with the superb idea of pairing the jam with Trader Joe's pot stickers.

Note on Pectin & Calcium Water:

I used Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which allows you to use less sugar—I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I try to avoid sugar when possible. I made the calcium water according to the directions that come with the packet. Pomona’s Universal Pectin can be bought at Whole Foods.

Note on Canning:

I did not use proper canning methods. My goal with this first attempt was to simply see if I could make jam. My recipe yielded 2 small jars, which I plan on eating faster than any fatal bacteria can grow. For complete canning & safety information, go to Home Canning or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

(photos by Julie Fay)


anni said...

Aaaah, lovely amber delight...
Welcome to the world of confiture! You'll never look at a piece of fruit the same again.

Blessings for a great week!

Anni :-)

aria said...

cool recipe, mmm i can just see the possibilities! i just posted about some cupcakes i made w/ tea and pears too. must be in the air L)