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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pear, Blood Orange and Vanilla Bean Jam


They say that necessity is the mother of invention but sometimes cheapness can also do the trick. There is this artisanal jam that I love, but unfortunately it is super expensive for a teeny tiny jar that lasts for three meals. Given than 3$ dollars worth of jam per occasion is a little beyond my income bracket I decided to do the next best thing and make my own.

I remember my parents making jam after we had gone strawberry picking as a kid but I had always found the idea of sterilizing jars a bit daunting. Since I don’t have any of the equipment to make jam on a large scale I decided to make one jar’s worth and keep it in the fridge so I could skip the whole canning process.


I bought random pears and let them get super ripe then peeled, cored and sliced them. Pretty much any kind of pear will work, although maybe not so much Asian pears since they are less sweet.


I had originally planned to use grapefruit segments but since they had blood oranges at the supermarket, first time they’ve been on sale there, I decided to use them instead. As well I squeezed the juice of two lemons and added that to the pears.


I decided to zest the lemons, grapefruits and blood oranges and chuck that into the pot.


The blood orange segments.


Vanilla Beans.


I split the vanilla beans and scraped out the seeds and added them to the fruit. I also added the pods to the pot.


The sugar. I didn’t bother measuring it. I also added a splash of water.


I stirred the pot and let everything bubble away for half an hour or so. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any pectin. All fruit has pectin, some more than others and I just decided to depend on the pear’s natural pectin to thicken everything up.


My kitchen smelled amazing at this point, like the world’s best scented candle. I came back and stirred the pot every five minutes or so to make sure that nothing was sticking. I also gave it a taste at this point and added a bit more sugar.


I really should not have added that splash of water. The pears threw out more liquid than I had been expecting and after 45 minutes of cooking I was fretting that it was not thickening up enough. The husband suggested that I mash some of the fruit up to see if that would help.


Mashing everything seemed to do the trick. The blood oranges turned everything a nice pinkish-red colour and you can see all the flecks of vanilla seeds throughout the jam.


I cooked the jam until it was getting thick but was still fairly liquid as I knew it would thicken further as it cooled down.


I poured everything into a tall mason jar that I had and put it in the fridge. I decided to leave the pods in there to infuse the jam further.


Now that I know how easy and good making jam from scratch is I might quit buying it from the store. The flavour is excellent with a perfect mix of sweet citrus, mellow pear and fragrant vanilla. I’ve been eating it mixed into Greek yogurt for breakfast and on toast. I’ve had my bottle in the fridge for a couple of weeks and it is still keeping well. One word to all of you low cal people out there, do not try to make this kind of jam and skimp on the sugar as it helps to preserve food and prevent spoilage. Once I’m finished this bottle I am going to try experimenting with different flavour combinations, I’m thinking of trying raspberries and Grand Marnier next. Tags:
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