Pear Jam with Green Cardamom

When we were little, my sister, grandmother and I would make jams and jellies. Huge, bubbling pots of sticky, sweet compote. Usually strawberry, always delicious. Over the years I have moved away from canning of any kind. I don’t want to deal with pectin or with disinfecting jars. And while I constantly toy with the idea of home made pickles, apple sauce is really the only jar dwelling food that I make.

Canning and especially jam making, seems like more hassle then it was worth and I don’t really eat jam to begin with. Then I saw this recipe in December’s Food and Wine Magazine. Pears + Cardammon. How can that not be worth the effort? But wait! The recipe virtually makes itself. No pectin, no preservatives, no disinfecting, no hassle. You just have to plan ahead a tiny bit.

I finally got around to making the jam about 6 weeks ago, but had yet to actually taste the final product, despite the jars overflowing from my freezer. We cracked one this morning and heaped a spoonful onto some McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal.

It was absolutely delicious! The spice of the cardamom really comes through and the body of the jam, which is slightly chunky from larger pieces of pear, gives you something to sink your teeth into. I always find jam to be a bit sweet for my taste and this recipe is no exception. I would leave out at least 1 cup of sugar. It was really quite nice though, especially with the contrast of the thick, dense oatmeal. Two tablespoons of the jam were enough to sweeten and add a lovely pear flavor to the entire bubbling sauce pan of oats. If your not sure what to do with 6 pints of jam, which is about what it yields, throw it in the freezer or give it to friends. Either way try it for yourself.

Food & Wine’s Pear Jam with Green Cardamom:

4 pounds ripe Bartlett pears – peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon freen cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon honey

1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, toss the pears with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Put a metal spoon in the freezer. Transfer the pears and their liquid to a wide, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Put the crushed cardamom in a tea ball and add it to the pot. Cook the pears over high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid starts to thicken and the pears become translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

3. Transfer one-third of the pears to a food processor or a food mill and puree until smooth. Add the puree to the pot. Boil over moderately high heat, stirring, until the jam is very thick, about 5 minutes. To test the jam, drop a small amount on the chilled spoon and freeze for about 30 seconds. When you tilt the spoon, the jam should be thick and run down the spoon slowly. If the jam is runny, cook it for a few minutes longer, then test again. Remove the tea ball and stir in the honey.

4. Ladle the jam into three clean, 1-pint jars and let cool completely. Tightly close the jars and store the pear jam in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.