There have been some hilarious disasters with Asian food since living in Okinawa. For instance, the time I was hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I made a pear gorgonzola salad that my mother makes and reminds me of holidays with my family. Just as the guests had arrived, I looked at the food. My salad was no longer a salad. It was a soup. Seriously, a soup. Chunky, disgusting, inedible. Soup.
I had thought that the Asian pears I had purchased would be a suitable substitute for European pears. They have a milder flavor, but surely pears could replace pears in a recipe!? Saying Asian pears are juicy is a vast understatement. Delicious, autumnal, floral, sweet, juicy.
The pears in my salad released their water and made my salad a soup. Lesson learned. All that water takes a long time to cook off in Asian pear butter so you definitely want to pull out your slow cooker. But the results are well worth it.
Asian pear butter has incredible flavor and is fall in a jar. The smart cook will start in the early evening and have the pears ready to go into the slow cooker before they go to bed. Me? I started mine in the late morning. As the day ended and I was getting sleepy, I willed my eyes to stay open as I waited for it to thicken, setting the timer to allow it to finish cooking. Plan on 13-16 hours in the slow cooker with a large batch like mine. Really, there isn’t a whole lot of work in the whole process and it can be left unattended for several hours. It makes your house smell like what a home should smell like in autumn: spice, fruit, and love.
- Roughly 9-10 pounds Asian pears (about 10-12) cored and chopped*****
- 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 cup lemon juice******
- 2 ½ cups honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- tiny pinch cloves
- *****Asian pears vary greatly in size. Small pears are ½ to ⅔ pound and larger Asian pears are around a pound. The size greatly affects the amount of water and cooking time. Leaving the peels on increases the pectin and ability of the pears to form a thicker consistency.
- ******The acidity allows the Asian pears to be canned safely so do not skip this ingredient.
- Chop pears into 4-8 pieces, core. In a large saucepan or stock pot, over medium heat bring pears, ginger, lemon juice, and water to a simmer. Drop heat to low and simmer, covered for 35-45 minutes until very tender. Use an immersion blender to puree well or add to blender in batches. Strain using a fine mesh sieve into large crockpot.
- Stir in honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Place lid on and cook over high heat. To expedite, I let the cover be open just enough to let steam release from crock pot. Stir occasionally.
- Asian pears are a very high water content and will this will take around 12-15 hours to cook. I recommend starting cooking in the evening and letting it cook overnight. You don’t have to worry about it being overcooked unless its You can test for doneness by using the saucer test or toast test.
- After all of this patience, it is worthwhile to process the jars properly for canning. Use sterile jars and lids (may accomplish by placing in boiling water for 10 minutes). Once you have filled the jars (it should make around 5 half-pints), seal and place in boiling water that is at least one inch higher than jars for ten minutes. These should last for several months on the shelf or are very appreciated gifts.