Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bubbling in the Cauldron-Pear Butter with Raisins & Figs

One of the things that I love the most about the Outlander series are the cooking scenes. I love to imagine myself in Jenny's kitchen stirring bubbling pots full of delicious things to feed my family. I can close my eyes and imagine myself throwing open the windows at Lallybroch and smelling the fresh clean air. I smile as I imagine myself reaching for my crystal decanter full of whiskey and pouring myself a wee dram to sip while I stir pots full of soup and jam over the wood burning oven. In my mind I prepare delicious cakes for tea and wonderful dinners for the long cold nights. It's the best fantasy ever for a girl like me!

 How I long for a wood stove again. When I had one at my farm, I would always use it to  cook with. I loved the self sufficiency of it. I remember many a cold morning when we would lose our power but I could always feed my family with a few logs and my favorite cast iron frying pan.I used to make slow cooked oatmeal on my woodstove and also flapjacks,bacon and soup. Occasionally I would make fruit butters. They were always delicious, thick, rich and smoky!

  Today was a beautiful autumn day so I spent it making pear butter. Lacking a fire and a cauldron I decided to use my slow cooker.The result was surprising and filled with a few twists and I even learned a cheat that I'm going to pass on to you. Of course I began with fresh pears, three different kinds. I diced them and put them into the slow cooker with a little bit of olive oil  and a knob of fresh butter. Then I added pear juice, cinnamon, anise,cloves,Cardamom and brown sugar.

I simmered this in the slow cooker on low for 10 hours. After 10 hours I added more diced pear and let it cook for a few hours more. At that point I decided that it was too juicy and I knew I needed to thicken it before I put it in the canning jars, but I jusst wasn't sure how to do it.

So I went to the grocery store and I bought raisins and currents.  I thought about buying figs and then a thought passed through my mind. Instead of dried figs, I bought a jar of French fig jam, full of figs and added pectin. My reasoning was that if I used the jam, perhaps my mixture would thicken on its own. I came home and started the pot simmering. I added the dried fruit and the fig jam. I continued to stir patiently.

 Lo and behold , the pear butter began to thicken! I poured it into canning jars to which I'd added a tablespoon of lemon juice ( each jar) and water processed them for 30 minutes. That fig jam was one of the best cooking cheats that I've ever discovered!

I cracked open a jar about an hour ago and it's absolutely yummy; beautiful, creamy , fruity and thick and ready for holiday gifting!

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