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How to Make Pear Butter


Pear Butter

Pear Butter

Photo © Molly Watson
Pear butter, like apple butter, contains no butter at all. It is simply fresh fruit cooked down to a lovely, thick, spreadable consistency. This version is lightly spiced and perfect for spreading on toast, but also for dolloping on ice cream or serving with roasted pork.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 3 to 4 pints


  • 5 lbs. Barlett pears (you want pears that will easily fall apart when cooked)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 6 cardamom pods (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Core and chop the pears. You can peel them, if you like, which will lead to a lighter colored pear butter (as pictured here). Put them in a large pot with the lemon juice, salt, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop the ginger and add it to the pot. When the mixtures boils, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, stirring when you think of it, until the pears are very soft and falling apart, 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. Run the pear mixture through a food mill or, if you've peeled the pears, you may be able to simply whirl the mixture in a blender (in batches).
  4. Return the pear mixture to the pot and add 3 cups of the sugar. Stir to thoroughly dissolve and taste. If you want it sweeter, add up to another cup of sugar.
  5. Peel cardmom pods and crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle or whirl in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Add ground cardamom and the nutmeg to the pear mixture.
  6. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently to keep the mixture from sticking or burning, until it noticeably thickens, about an hour. Note: This may take up to 2 hours depending on the pears.
  7. Transfer mixture to clean pint or half-pint glass jars and store in the fridge. If you want to store the pear butter for longer periods, can it for storage: Sterilize the jars and lids first, ladle the mixture into the jars leaving 1/2-inch headroom, screw on lids, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

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