Pickle & Preserve

Pear and Black Pepper Preserves

January  3, 2014
5 Ratings
  • Makes about 7 half-pint jars
Author Notes

April McGreger is the owner of Farmer's Daughter Pickles & Preserves, a small batch preserving company focusing on the best of the local harvest in the North Carolina Piedmont. In addition to winning four Good Food Awards for her delicious jams and pickles, April teaches preserving classes and writes about food. She is an author of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, including a chapter on "Putting Up," and has a book coming out this fall titled Sweet Potatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook.

These black pepper-spiked preserves are a twist on traditional southern-style pear preserves, which are traditionally spooned over hot biscuits. They are cooked slow and low so that the syrup thickens but the pears retain their shape. They differ from most jams, which are cooked hard and fast, and have a thicker spreadable consistency. Black pepper lends a pungent complexity to this variation that makes them a natural for the cheese or charcuterie board. They are particularly magical spooned over warm crostini topped with a blend of ricotta and grated Pecorino Romano and drizzled with walnut oil such as Good Food Award finalist Glashoff Farm’s, Roasted Walnut Oil.

Note: It is important that you use very firm, underripe pears for these preserves or they will cook to mush. —Good Food Awards

What You'll Need
  • 3 pounds very firm, pears such as Bartlett or Kieffer
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup wildflower or other mild honey
  • 2-inch knob of fresh ginger
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  1. Peel, quarter, and core pears. Slice the quarter crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. You should have about about 8 cups.
  2. Peel your lemon and julienne the zest. Halve and juice the lemons and reserve the juice.
  3. Peel the ginger, thinly slice it lengthwise, and then julienne it to be a similar shape to the lemon julienne.
  4. In a preserving kettle layer pears, sugar, honey, lemon zest, and ginger, finishing with a layer of sugar. Cover with foil and let stand overnight on the kitchen counter.
  5. The next day, place a plate and 3 spoons in your freezer.
  6. Remove the foil from the pears, stir in 1/3 cup of lemon juice and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat. Cook very slowly until the pears are tender and translucent and the syrup is thick, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Be careful not to burn them. Add a little water if they begin to stick to the bottom of your kettle before the pears are tender.
  7. When the pears begin to look translucent, test the consistency of the syrup by placing a bit on one of your cold spoons and putting it back in the freezer for another minute or two. You want a consistency just thicker than maple syrup but not as thick as honey. If your pear syrup is not thick enough, cook another 10 minutes and test again.
  8. Gently stir in the black pepper just before you pull the preserves off the stove. Ladle hot preserves into hot sterilized jars and top with 2-piece canner lids. You can store your preserves in the refrigerator (or freezer if you use freezer safe jars), or you can process them for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath canner for pantry storage.
  9. Resource: National Center for Home Food Preservation for instructions on using a water bath canner. http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • em-i-lis
  • ducksandbooks
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    Claire Darby
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    Jean Ferguson

7 Reviews

Jean F. September 5, 2017
Can I substitute Asian pears into this recipe?
Laura September 17, 2015
This is my hands down favorite! Thanks you so much. I have made four batches. My family will be so grateful for their Christmas baskets
em-i-lis February 1, 2014
This is beautiful and wonderful but my yield was only 3 half pints and another quarter pint plus change. How did you get 7??? Thanks for a great recipe!
ducksandbooks January 8, 2014
Sounds similar to a dutch oven (my enameled cast iron dutch oven is my jam-making pot of choice). I process my home-canned goods in my stock pot with a cake-sized cooling rack in the bottom (so they don't crack from thermal shock or banging on the bottom of the pot).
aprilmc January 6, 2014
A preserving kettle is a large pot- wider than it is tall- so evaporation is encouraged. Traditional French preserving pots are usually copper and the sides slope outwards so that they are wider at the top than the bottom. Any large,wide pot, such as an enameled Dutch oven, will do.
Claire D. January 7, 2014
Thanks @aprilmc. I'm relatively new to canning, and that was definitely a piece of equipment I hadn't heard of before.
Claire D. January 6, 2014
What on earth is a "preserving kettle?"