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Pear Season, My Family Tradition

It’s pear season here in Missouri. My mom planted a pear tree when I was a little girl, and we’ve been enjoying the harvest for many years. It was little more than a stick when she planted it south of her house in the 1980s. I remember asking her if she was sure it was alive. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around a tree growing from that stick. She assured me that the stick would grow and give us lots of delicious pears. As usual, she was right.

Mom’s tree is a Kieffer Pear. It’s quite hearty, which makes it perfect for a place like Missouri where our temperatures range from sub-zero in the winter to over 100 degrees in the summer. Our humidity often makes 100 degrees feel like 115. Anything growing here must be tough.

My mom, sister, and I spend several days every fall processing the bountiful pears from Mom’s tree. We usually meet at Mom’s house and create an assembly line. We each perform a task and work together to turn the pears into yummy confections such as jam, jelly, slices, sauce, and syrup. When it’s ready, we preserve our creations in sealed glass jars by canning them in a boiling bath canner.

Then we split up the fruit we didn’t get processed. Mom keeps her share and preserves sliced vanilla pears, which are great to eat right out of the jar or put in a pie. My sister takes her share home and makes flavored jelly. She uses the pears as a base and adds flavors such as strawberry , orange, and grape. Her concoctions are pretty tasty and unique.

I make pear jam sans any extra flavoring and pear butter with mine. My pear butter is based on my grandma’s apple butter recipe. I’ve adjusted it over the years, but I always follow Grandma’s instructions that say, “Cook it until it gets that eatin’ look.” The “eatin’ look” usually takes around three hours to obtain, but I’ve had batches that I’ve cooked for as long six hours.

pear butter ready for jars

Pear butter needs to be thick, rich, and fragrant. It usually reduces in size by 25% to 50%. The batch I made yesterday reduced by 50%. I cooked it for three and a half hours before it attained the “eatin’ look,” and I must say those warm flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and pears bursting onto my tongue always take me to my happy place.

pear butter canned

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