Fragrant with cardamom and cinnamon, this spiced pear jam also has a special twist thanks to the addition of our lovely Afternoon "High Tea" white tea with pear, peach, and apricot.
Jam-making can seem like a daunting task, but this recipe makes the process dead easy and is just right for tentative beginners or seasoned jam makers. I like this recipe because it's simple, with no need for pectin or gelling agents, just straightforward ingredients found in most kitchens or purchased easily from your local grocery store.
The most important aspects of jam-making are sterilized equipment and good produce. If you use clean equipment, you won't have mold or spoilage to worry about, and if you use good produce, you'll have an end product that tastes as good as it looks.
To make these better than Grandma's pear preserves, you'll need two glass jars with lids, a stainless steel pot, and, if you like your jam smooth, a blender. Other than that, you'll need a cutting board, paring knife, and your ingredients. That's it.
I'm not picky when it comes to fruit varieties; I choose whatever is in season and takes my fancy at the market. This batch was made with Bartlett pears, but you could easily substitute Bosc, Comice, or lovely red Anjou pears. You can even use Asian pears, though you may have to cook the jam a bit longer for it to thicken well since Asian pears are often more watery than other varieties.
If you aren't a big pear fan, you could substitute apples or try something completely different like our Mixed Summer Berry Tea Jelly with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries mixed with strong black tea, or our Apricot-Lavender Jam with fragrant lavender powder.
Since pears go beautifully with so many different spices, have fun with the flavors for this spiced pear jam. From ginger and nutmeg to star anise and cloves, the sky is the limit. For my batch I used ground cinnamon and cardamom and a spoonful of lemon zest. The combination was fresh yet warming, just what I was looking for.
Jam requires sugar. A lot of it. It works both as a preservative and a thickener, so if you don't use it, your jam will spoil quickly and will be runny. You may gasp when you see how much sugar goes with the fruit, but remember that you don't eat jam by the cupful, only the spoonful, and a bit of sugar is a lovely thing. I use white sugar because it doesn't impart any flavor to the jam, only sweetness, allowing the pears and spices to truly shine.
This is a leisurely recipe, one that you mix up the night before then allow to rest on the kitchen counter until morning. This ensures the pear juices mingle well with the sugar and spices. The next day, simply bring all the ingredients to a boil, then simmer about 15 minutes until hot and thick. If you like your jam smooth, pour it into a blender and puree before bottling. If you like chunky jam, pour it straight into your sterilized jars and seal. Once the jars are sealed tight, I turn them upside down and let them cool completely. This almost guarantees that the jars will seal well.
Better Than Grandma's Spiced Pear Preserves
(makes about 3 cups)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Afternoon "High Tea" white tea leaves
- 4 pears
- 1 lemon
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Place tea leaves in a mug and pour over 1/4 cup just-boiled water. Leave to steep 2-3 minutes, then strain and set aside.
Core and cut pears into small pieces.
Place pears, tea, and remaining ingredients in medium glass or stainless steel bowl. Stir well to combine. Cover with lid or plastic food wrap and leave on counter overnight.
Pour pear mixture into medium stainless steel saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to reduce foaming.
If you want a smooth jam, pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth, then proceed to next step. If you like it chunky, proceed to next step now.
Pour hot, finished jam into sterilized jars and seal immediately. No need for a hot water bath if the jam is hot; the jars will seal themselves. Set aside to cool, then store in pantry.