I love making jams and jellies and truly some are easier to make than others. Pear jam usually fell into the “others” category. Ginger Pear Jam happens to be one of Emily’s favorites so I decided I had to tackle it and work out a recipe that was more reliable.
There are dozens of pear preserve and pear jam recipes and I’ve tried many of them. My frustration – most provided sketchy details about the cooking process. Some said to cook the jam until thick, some referenced cooking until it reaches your desired thickness, some suggested cooking until the mixture sheets off a spoon or gels which is a bit more clear but still “iffy”. I have thrown out many, many jars after spending hours prepping and cooking because the results turned out to be a sticky, tacky mess.
So I pulled together a blend of various recipes. The foundation of this recipe comes from the Pear Bureau Northwest and their site usapears.org. It seemed logical that pear growers would have a great method for making jams and preserves with pears. Their method was clean and simple. But I love the flavor profile of ginger with pears and the subtle, spicy note that ginger adds. So after a few rounds of trial and error this combination did the trick and yielded a beautiful, delicious jam.
For the pears, use your favorite. I’ve made this jam with both Green and Red Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett pears, all with great results. If you like chunks of pears, more of a preserve then use firmer pears. If you want a smooth, softer spread, more of a jam then let the fruit ripen on the counter until the pears soften.
Prepare the pears the day before you plan to cook them giving them time to sit in the sugar and lemon mixture at least 8 hours and preferably overnight. Ginger Pear Jam takes a bit of time to cook. You want the temperature of the jam to reach 220-degrees, about 45- 60 minutes or more. Though you don’t have to sit over the jam every minute you do want to stay in the vicinity. As the jam thickens you’ll want to stir it frequently to prevent the pears from sticking to the bottom of your kettle. Pull up a stool and pour yourself a cup of coffee, it’s worth the wait!
Pears brightened with fresh lemon, fresh ginger along with crystallized ginger create a delightful jam, sweet with a subtle, spicy note – one that is perfect for your morning biscuit or an unexpected treat served on your cheeseboard with a delicate Saint-André cheese.
Ginger Pear Jam
3 pounds slightly ripe to ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced – about 6 cups
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 2 small or 1 large lemon
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon butter
¼ cup crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Tools to have one hand:
A large heavy kettle or stockpot, heavy wooden spoon, digital thermometer, sterilized canning jars and lids (4-6 half-pint), funnel and ladle. If you’re planning to seal the jars in a water bath – a canner and tongs for lifting the hot jars in and out of the water.
Combine the sliced pears, the lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl or container. Gently mix to combine. Let the pears sit covered, at least 8 hours but preferably overnight at room temperature.
Pour the pear and sugar mixture into a large heavy kettle or stockpot. Cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the butter, the fresh ginger and the crystallized ginger. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil, stirring frequently to prevent the pears from sticking.
Cook the jam until the mixture thickens, is golden in color and measures 220-degrees on a candy thermometer. Note: The temperature will rise to this level periodically but will drop back down after you’ve stirred the jam. You want to continue cooking until the jam has thickened and reaches 220-degrees even after stirring. If you want to double check, you can drop a bit of the jam on a small plate, chill for a few minutes and check the consistency.
Remove the jam from the heat and ladle into sterilized jars then process in a water bath or refrigerate.
Golden, sweet Ginger Pear Jam!