In the late summer and early fall when the pears come into season here in Western Montana, one of the things I like to do with them is make this conserve. I have an old Barlett pear tree in the back yard and I use those pears. Bosc or Anjou pears also would work very well.
This recipe is based on one developed by Eugenia Bone for her book, Well Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York 2009. I adapted Eugenia Bone’s recipe to include dry sherry, walnuts and dark raisins and added some orange zest because that is what I usually have in the pantry.
If you are going to can this conserve use bottled lemon juice rather than fresh. This is because bottled lemon juice has a known level of acidity, important in canning, whereas fresh lemon juice may be less acidic. If you are going to serve all of this conserve right away, you could use fresh lemon juice.
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup bottled lemon juice
- 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 2 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
- ½ teas. ground cinnamon
- ¾ teas. ground ginger
- ½ teas. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teas. salt
- 5 cups of coarsely chopped peeled and cored pears, about 3 pounds.
- ½ cups chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Combine the raisins, sugar, orange and lemon juices, orange and lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a large pot. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pears, cover, lower the heat and boil gently for 20 minutes. Depending upon the ripeness of the pears, you may need to add a little water to the pot. The pears should be a little soft.
Remove the cover from the pot and cook for another 15-20 minutes to thicken. Add the walnuts, sherry and thyme and stir to mix the ingredients. This recipe will make approximately four cups.
At this point you can use the conserve right away, can it according to standard canning protocols, or freeze it for a couple of months.
This conserve is good with all kinds of things but it is especially good with Winter Squash Soup. I also like it on a thick piece of multi-grain toast with a thick smear of Tofu Cream Cheese.