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Pears for Preserves - Peel or Not?

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I have a recipe for pear preserves which sounds great but doesn't give a lot of details. One thing it doesn't specify is whether or not I should peel the pears. Most recipes I've looked at do, but not all. Honestly I'd rather not do the work of peeling them if I don't need to. Also, the recipe does not call for any thickening agent and I wonder if the recipe needs the pectin in the peels (which is where I think the pectin is - or am I wrong?). Any help would be appreciated!

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  1. my mom always peels the pears for her preserves. she doesn't use any thickener, iirc, although i understand pears are "low pectin" fruits. every recipe i'm reading on the googled "pear preserves" says to peel the pears. looks like they use lemon for its pectin. my mom doesn't use lemon.

    once you make the preserves, make mom's delicious cobbler: http://www.chow.com/recipes/13522 ;-)

    1. A friend made a batch with peeled pears and although I adore pears, I have to say the final result was disappointing. Not a lot of pear flavor. If I were going to make it, I'd cook them peel-on, then put them through my food mill. If you don't have one, you can use a colander, wooden spoon, rubber scraper, and a LOT of elbow grease. Mom always made applesauce this way. She claimed the best flavor is right under the skin.

      I have a bottle of Pear Schnappes which I pull out whenever I'm cooking with pears. It has a lot of flavor, so I add a little for good measure, then cook off the alcohol.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        it is pear preserves, not puree, so i heartily advise against using a food mill. the pear preserves i know are not like a jam, but have significant slices of the pears. plus, to have a good batch of preserves, the pears have to be good pears to start. with all due respect greygarious, perhaps your friend had poor pears, or a crummy recipe.

        also, one does need to add enough sugar. mom says her mom used to just cook the pears with sugar, and "put them up" into the sterilized mason jars. that's all. they did figs the same way.

      2. It really depends exactly what you are making. I always peel pears for poached fruit. And I just made pear jam and I peeled. But for pear butter and pear jelly, I don't peel.

        1. lupaglupa, what did you end up doing? how did they turn out?

          4 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            Sorry Alkapal I'm a bit late with my answer! I ended up peeling the pears - my fear of having nasty unchewable strings in the finished product overcame my sloth. I overcooked the preserves a bit and ended up with something remarkably like a preserve my grandmother always called "pear honey" - a thick, syrupy spread studded with translucent pieces of fruit. My son loves it so all is well.

            1. re: lupaglupa

              happy new year, lupaglupa! i'll bet that pear honey would be a good condiment alongside some goat cheese spread on good toast -- maybe a fruit and nut holiday bread, or a crispy sourdough.

              next time, slice the pears into sixths, maybe, for thicker pieces that don't go translucent. but i like that cool translucence. did you use pectin for thickening, or was it enough pectin, but simply overcooking that made it syrupy?

              pear peeling wasn't so bad, was it? how many did you peel?

              1. re: alkapal

                I did about 25 pears - it was a sticky juicy job! I did not add any pectin, it cooked down fine on its own. I probably could have given it about an hour less and had something like "spoonfruit" but everyone seems happy with the result. I like your goat cheese suggestion - we'll have to try that.

                1. re: lupaglupa

                  my mom always likes to get the pears a little green....but definitely very firm. that does make a big difference.