Owning your own fruit trees has both positives and negatives, of course it is lovely to have an abundance of food which you have grown yourself, but you can also end up with more fruit than you know what to do with. I gave some away of course, but still managed to end up with a bowl-full of slightly mushy pears; still fine to eat but past the point where you would want to eat them as they are. The best possible use for them I figured was jam; which is also great to give away (not long till Christmas!) if you happen to end up with too much of it but it keeps a good deal longer than fresh fruit.
I decided to make the jam a bit more wintry with the addition of warming ginger; I used both grated fresh ginger and finely chopped stem ginger for a nice ginger kick; if you would like it to be more of a hint of ginger than a full-on flavour then you can omit the stem ginger.
Pears are a low-pectin fruit so you wont be able to make a good pear jam without the addition of pectin. To get round this, rather than adding pectin or using jam sugar I included some very finely minced cooking apples (also from the garden), which are high in pectin and ensure a good set. If you want to use all pears rather than a mixture of pears and apples then you can replace the apples with the same weight of pears and either use jam sugar in place of the granulated or add in some liquid pectin.
This is a fairly firm-set jam with a lovely warming flavour, perfect for a winter breakfast spread on toast or croissants. I also think it would make a lovely cake filling and I have been having ideas for a wintry version of a Victoria sponge filled with pear and ginger jam. The recipe just makes a small batch of jam – about three medium (212-250ml) sized jars; one for you, two for gifts! But the recipe is easily doubled if needed, just make sure that you use a really deep pan to make it in as jam really bubbles up when it boils and you don’t want it to spill over.
- 400g (14oz) (prepared weight) peeled and cored pears, chopped into small dice
- 150g (5.5oz) (prepared weight) peeled and cored cooking apple, very finely minced
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 100ml (scant ½ cup) water
- 400g (2 cups) granulated sugar
- 2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped
- Place a couple of saucers into the freezer and sterilise your jars; I do this by washing them in hot, soapy water, rinsing well then placing the jars, and their lids, in the oven on a low heat until needed.
- Place the pears, apples, lemon zest and juice, ginger and water into a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring up to a simmer and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender.
- Stir in the sugar and stem ginger and heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Turn up the heat and cook at a rapid boil for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches 105C on a thermometer; stir regularly to prevent it from catching on the bottom.
- Remove from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the jam on one of the cold saucers; pop it in the fridge for a minute then push at it with a finger, if the surface of the jam wrinkles then it is ready; if not then return the pan to a rapid boil for another five minutes then remove from the heat and check again.
- Allow the jam to cool for 5-10 minutes, then ladle it into hot sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool. Once opened keep refrigerated.
For another lovely jam to give away for Christmas, try my delicious plum and amaretto jam.