It’s very rare to find pear jam in markets because pears do not have enough natural pectin to permit them to gel up nicely without adding gigantic quantities of sugar and artificial pectin. Once you add all that to pear, the delicate flavor of this fruit gets ruined.
Then along comes the magic of THIS recipe with a special kind of pectin — Pamona’s Pectin powder and calcium water — that makes a pear jam that sets up beautifully with a minimum of added sugar. In addition, the simplicity of not having to peel the pears makes preparing the jam a cinch while adding a pleasurable texture to the otherwise smooth pear preserve. The vanilla bean itself is an essential item too, do not substitute vanilla extract. Though frightfully pricey ($4-5 apiece at this writing) the fresh vanilla goo scraped from the bean is THE essential taste and texture in this superlative treat.
My friend George gave this recipe to me and it cites its origin as Melissa Keyser of Sweet Bee Garden. George said that this was written on it: “This recipe will change your life!”. It is not an overstatement. This jam is a family staple on our biscuits, muffins, bagels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, warm brie bruschetta and right off the spoon standing with the refrigerator door open. Everyone gets a jar for a holiday gift.
Start with soft skin pears (like Bartletts) fresh from the farm, usually (here in Michigan) in September. Wash and dry them when they are green and firm, then let them ripen, spread out on towels. They should get very very ripe, even if browning.
16 cups cored and chopped very ripe thin skinned pears, unpeeled
4 vanilla beans, split and scraped
4 cups sugar
5 teaspoons Pamona’s Pectin Powder
10 teaspoons Pamona Pectin calcium water
In a large pot, combine pears, vanilla beans and all the vanilla scrapings. Cook over medium heat until the fruit is soft and smashable. Remove the vanilla pods. Use an immersion blender to break the fruit down into a smooth sauce. Add the calcium water.
In a separate bowl, mix the pectin powder with the sugar, then stir it into the fruit. Bring the fruit and sugar to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Fill sterile canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch space, and process according to appropriate canning methods in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Yield: 11 1/2 pint jars