Peach & Pear Butter

Fruit butters are some of the nicest things to eat in the world. They have a beautiful smooth, spreadable texture, and the long cooking process caramelizes the sugars and brings out deep flavours hiding in the fruit. Technique wise it’s kind of  between making a jam and making caramel. As it cooks, you can see the texture become finer, more translucent and glossy. The colour goes from a light grey-brown to a beautiful deep caramel. Fruit butter takes patience, and a gentle hand, but it’s such a unique taste, and mind numbingly good on scones, buttery toast, or even on top of a pork chop. Oh baby.

Originally I had tried making this in the slow cooker, but it just made an applesauce textured mush. It needs a high temperature to get the colour, texture and flavours I was looking for.

Peach & Pear Butter

Yield: 1 Litre
Time: 2 hours
Cost: $2.99

10 pears
10 peaches
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp salt
Vanilla Bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
++ You can add ginger, whiskey or cinnamon if you’d like

** To use for testing if it’s done later on, plate a small plate in the freezer now**

Peel, and dice pears and peaches. Put them in to a large, heavy bottomed pot and add a cup of water.

Cook until soft and breaking down, approximately 15-20 minutes. Puree well in a blender or with an immersion blender. Pour through a mesh sieve into a smaller pot. Press out every bit of juice until you have an almost dry pulp. Set aside.

Put the strained peach+pear mix back on, and bring to a simmer. Add in sugar, salt, and any flavours (except vanilla). Reduce by half on medium-low heat. This will take quite a while, and you should stir it often to prevent the bottom from burning.

The aim is to cook out almost all of the moisture, while simultaneously caramelizing the sugars. You’re looking for nearly 200 degrees on a thermometer. If you take a spoonful out and blob it onto a cold plate, the water shouldn’t separate quickly out of it and drip away. Youre butter should be in a mound on the plate, and if you poke it into a little mountain, it should stay.

When its finished, spoon while hot into clean, sterilized jars.

 

These photos look like I pooped all over a plate and stuck my finger in it.. but I promise it’s the fruit butter. It demonstrates the different stages, and what you’re looking for as a final product.

After about 20 minutes of boiling. The liquid separates from the pulp instantly on the plate, and is thin and runny.

Second spoon test after about 40 minutes. The colour is starting to look nice, but still too runny.

Third spoon test, after about an hour of cooking. Colour is great and the pulp holds its shape very well. It’s slow to drip, and the liquid that comes out is thicker than before.

Fourth spoon test, an hour and a half of cooking. Very slow to drip and holds it’s shape.
Colour is dark, but not burnt.

The mixture is thick and the liquid that comes out is thick and glossy like caramel. If you push it around the plate a bit, it holds its shape. It should be thick enough to imagine spreading on toast.

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Lavender & Manuka

Today was great. Cory got to get greasy and play around underneath the car messing about with nuts and bolts, and I got to do a baking thing!

I had bought a kilo of baby brown skinned pears from the market last week and finally decided to do something with them. First of all, they were just on the cusp of being too ripe. The kind of juicy that runs down your arm.  Mm baby. Usually a pear so ripe would be terrible for poaching, as they will just fall apart fairly quickly. But having a thick brown skin and a more fiberous interior, they seemed tough enough.

The taste of New Zealand so far for me has been lavender. There’s a huge hedge around the house, perpetually covered in chubby little bees, and its the first smell we get when we get home here in Waitakere. The second most New Zealand flavour for me, is manuka honey. Every morning I stir a glob of into my tea and its how I start my day here. It has a very strong and distinctive flavour thats slightly medicinal so you don’t need much to impart the flavour of tea tree into things. And of course, New Zealand means beautiful wine. So I clipped some sprigs, added a few blobs of honey and a splash of white wine into the pot. It smelled incredible.

Im going to wait til they cool off a little and then completely cover a pile of vanilla ice cream in these wee bad boys. They are sweet and mellow tasting, and the manuka & lavender combine into this musky slightly savoury flower taste. It’s pretty nice.

Lavender & Manuka Poached Pears

2 cups sugar

2 tbsp manuka honey

6 springs fresh lavender

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups water

1 kilo pears

In a medium pot, combine sugar, water, honey, wine and lavender. Bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for that to come up to a boil, peel, core and halve your pears.

Once your syrup is boiling, carefully add your pears, as well as any juice that came off the pears as you peeled them. Reduce to a low simmer. Cut a circle of parchment paper with a hole in the middle and place on top of the pears to keep them submerged, so that they poach evenly. Leave on a low simmer for about an hour, or until your pears are the same consistency & colour all the way through.

Strain out your pears and set aside. On a rolling boil, reduce your syrup by half, and pour over your pears. Will keep in a sealed container with syrup for atleast a week in the fridge. You can keep the syrup for weeks, and use it to poach more pears in, with even more flavour. Or add it to a glass of soda water and have a lovely lavender, honey and pear pop!

Chookies

There’s a plate of cookies for ya!

No. Sorry. You can’t have any. Every single one of them is the sole property of one giant bearded fellow who threatened terrible, violent retribution against any friend or coworker who might chomp a chook. All the cookies are his, so back off internet.

While he was at school today I spent some alone time in my underpants and apron, talking to my new best friend; a bartlett pear shaped some what like a pompous kiwi bird. It was during this special “Kara Time” that I made these cookies of love and fondness for my fellow. Because sometimes when you come home from school there should be milk and cookies waiting for you on the table. Even if you’re in your mid twenties and you’re coming home from a film criticism class.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 lb unsalted butter, room temp

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tsp salt

6 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 pound of chocolate (1 bag dark chocolate chips, 1 bag milk chocolate chips)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add in vanilla. Mix together flour, salt and baking soda and beat into butter mixture just until evenly incorporated. Add chocolate and pulse until mixed in nicely.

Scoop or make wee balls and bake 6-12 minutes at 350 degrees.