19 September 2007

Pear and vanilla jam


Seasonal fruit…. a delicacy, a rejuvenation of the senses and a welcomed change with each calender month that passes. But I find it sad how people seem to be increasingly unaware of which fruit belongs to which season and thus buy on a craving basis. It is no wonder though… with the grocery stores offering strawberries, peaches, mangoes, melon… (I could go on here) 365 days a year! Unless you have tasted a hand picked, perfectly ripe, home grown fruit, how are your sense suppose to know the difference.

I am getting off my soapbox … and have decided to dedicate this post to THE PEAR‘poire william’ to be exact, currently in season and picked from the farm trees a few days ago.

There are two main types of pears in Europe, the Anjou and the William (or Bartlett as they are known in North America) Anjou pears are a hardy winter pear, light green in colour and available from the autumn through to spring. Whereas the William pears are a sweeter variety (great for jam making) golden yellow with a fleck of red and ready to pick from late summer through the autumn.


  • 1kg (1000g) peeled & chopped William (Bartlett) pears
  • 800g white sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean  (they are soft and usually sold in a small glass tube)
  • 5 jam jars (depending on size)

Jam jar preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 100°C. To sterilise the jam jars (bocaux) wash them in soapy water, rinse and place open-side up on a tray in the the oven while you make the jam
  2. Next squeeze the juice of one lemon and set aside. Now peel the pears, remove the stem and seeds and cut into small pieces.
  3. In a very large saucepan (preferably one for making soups) add the chopped pears and sugar.

Jam making:

  1. On the stove bring the pears and sugar to a rolling boil, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While waiting prepare the vanilla. Cut the vanilla bean in half and remove the grains from inside by creating a long slit length wise down the vanilla bean and scraping out the inside.
  3. Add the grains, the empty vanilla bean pod and the lemon juice to the jam, and cook for another 5 minutes until the “GOUTTE TEST” works (see below)
  4. Remove the jam from the stove and take out the vanilla bean pods. Using an electric hand-mixer, slightly blend the fruit until desired texture (ie mix well if you prefer a smoother jam)
  5. Remove the jam jars from the oven and with a ladle fill each jar until approx. 1cm from the surface. Cover with plastic or screw tops. Leave to set for 2-3 days.

GOUTTE TEST: a goutte is a drop and as I do not use pectin / certo to thicken the jam (lemon juice helps with this), you need to cook it until, dipping a wooden spoon into the jam and them holding the spoon horizontally over the saucepan, the LAST goutte / drop does not fall off the spoon but holds. You then know your jam will set.

11 Responses to “PEAR JAM”

  1. MA Says:

    We are a “jam” making family; however, have never tried pear jam and did not know that Bartlett pears had another name in Europe. When I first read the title, I thought you had used Poire William liqueur…….. but then realized you would not taste this when the jam was finished cooking!
    I love these pears, especially since they are in season and I think the combination with the vanilla bean will be sensational in the jam. Well done and cannot wait to taste it!

  2. Olivier Says:

    Sweet like honey and yellow like gold, a must on your toast!

  3. Louise Says:

    I was wondering what to do with all those pears – thanks!

  4. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    MA : glad to hear I have come up with a recipe you have not tried yet. The vanilla goes wonderfully with the pears. As for the ‘poire william liqueur’…. no alcohol in the jam jar please ha ha 🙂

    Olivier : there is evidence of leaving the toast and just eating the jam with a spoon !!!

    Louise : thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment 🙂 I had the same problem with plums… there is a story under my post for ‘Plum & cinnamon pastry tart’ However making jam is the best way to use up the fruit before it turns (as pears can rather quickly!) I also know how greatful I will be to have this jam during the winter in Switzerland. Speak soon

  5. amyszoo Says:

    Wow! Anything pear is good in my book though!

  6. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    Amy : hi, thanks for leaving a note 🙂 I am just getting started with the pear season… the possibilites are endless! My next project is safron poached pears. Going to take a look at your blog, speak soon

  7. happygrub Says:

    Hi Erika,
    Your jammy post is helping a lot in my quest for jam making knowledge. A few questions: how long does the jam last? Do u let it set at room temperature? Cos S’pore is really hot. And I dun have an electric hand mixer, if I put it in my blender, would I have to sterilize that too? Or is there a way to boil everything to a mush?

    I still don’t dare take the plunge into the jam making world.. help!

  8. chocolateshavings Says:

    I agree! I wish we could wait for the right time to eat fruit and find more pleasure in how delicious they are when in the right season..

  9. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    Farhan (happygrub) : I am so pleased you are finding my jam tips helpful – Olivier’s mother is an expert, so I have learned from the best 🙂 Here are some answers to your questions:

    JAM LIFE – approx. 1 year if you used plastic film covers and store the jam in a kitchen cupboard. The jam with naturally dry out a little with time. I recommend using screw top covers for the jam jars as it helps slow the drying process and you can normally keep the jam a little longer.

    ELECTRIC MIXER – if you are careful not to burn yourself you can use a blender to mix the jam in small batches. This is not as practical or fast as a hand mixer but will do the same job. Re sterilization of the blender- I would simply wash it with hot soapy water, rinse and dry well before using.

    MIXING – Not all jam needs to be mixed (ie apricot) it also depends on the type and how ripe the fruit is that you are using. If you use very ripe fruit you may be able to aviod mixing altogether.

    As they say here … courage, it always seem more difficult before you try. Start with something simple, like the pear and vanilla jam I just posted.
    Speak soon 🙂

  10. Erika Says:

    Jennifer & Oliver (Chocolate shavings) : I know what you mean. I think you have a greater appreciation for fruits and veggies if you wait until the season comes around – plus they are fresh, delicious and have taste! Not to mention the whole argument of increased pollution and local farmer job shortage due to large imports of foreign produce!

  11. jeena Says:

    Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too 🙂

    Jeena xx

    click here for food recipes

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