Monday, January 20, 2014

PB and PB

Peanut butter is just one of those near-perfect foods;  a fine balance of sweet and savoury.  Years and years went by when I could guarantee that the sandwich in my brown paper bag was peanut butter (creamy peanut butter, white bread, crusts okay).  I was rather the purist.  Ninety-five percent of the time it was strictly a plain peanut butter sandwich.  On occasion, I would mix it up and have peanut butter and mustard (don't judge) or if I was at home, peanut butter and banana (but it had to be on toast).  I was never a big fan of jelly and would only have it on toast with butter.

Tastes change over the years.  I appreciate the joys of jam these days, especially the homemade variety.  And while for the most part I still prefer my peanut butter solo, peanut butter with jam is a welcome addition.  I gave up on the peanut butter and mustard long ago.  Over the past year, I've made a fair share of jams, marmalades, and preserves.  Strawberries, raspberries, plums, peaches, and oranges have found their way to the stovetop with some sugar and water.

Three very ripe Bartlett pears in the fruit bowl inspired me to make pear butter.  A cursory look online gave me the basics and from there, my version of pear butter was born.  I like that you have a little extra leeway in the spices department here.  Fruit butters have a warmth to them, which is probably why I've associated them with Autumn.  I think that's about to change.

Of course, I paired my pear butter with peanut butter.  I can easily see myself breaking the 'peanut butter only' toast habit I have with this stuff around.  It's also fantastic swirled in plain yogurt and topped with granola.

Pear Butter
(Adapted from a recipe on
Makes roughly 1 1/2 cups

3 large Bartlett pears, cored and cubed
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Juice from one orange
4 cloves
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 cup turbinado sugar

In a medium saucepan, add pears, water, orange zest, cloves, and orange juice.  Bring to a low boil and let pears soften and cook, about 12-15 minutes.  Place a fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and pour  the pears into the strainer.  Stir and puree and push through the strainer.  Remove the cloves and any larger pieces of pear skin.  Return the puree and strained juice back to the saucepan.  With the pan over low heat, add the sugar and five spice powder.  Stir to mix ingredients.  Stir occasionally so fruit doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan.  Cook on a low simmer for 20 minutes or until sugar dissolves and puree starts to thicken.  

Remove from heat and store in a container in refrigerator.