The Comice Pear Gingered Jam was several months in the making. It was a ten year-old girl who first inspired me to make it. While at my house one day, she was flipping through my food-splattered copy of Well Preserved and suddenly stopped. “Can we make this one?” Ginger Pear Jam. The girl has good taste. Not one to ever really plan time well around the holidays, I said, “YES! Yes, let’s make that jam!” I decided to make it a gift project. We’d make the jam together, split the goods, then decorate and give them as holiday gifts.
The jam turned out amazing. It so sweet and tasty, that if you close your eyes you’d first think, “Yum, apple butter.” And then, wait! That’s not apple butter. what is that? Pear? Ginger? DELICIOUS!
This jam is truly a show stopper. And because pears are still in season through the winter (at least in the Bay Area) I highly recommend making it. A word of advice, though: buy the candied ginger. That’s where I went wrong. I got a little bit over-excited and thought to myself, “How hard can it be to make candied ginger?” Not hard, really. It’s the actual cutting of the ginger that’s a problem. Especially when you have a basic mandolin, and you try to cut the awkwardly shaped ginger into perfect 1/8 inch slices (why does it matter? I’ve since realized I’ve never seen ginger in perfectly thin slices – and now I know why).
You know what’s coming.
Slice. Slice. Slice. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My thumb, at least the tip of it, has been washed out to sea. Gone, down the drain, along with some of my nail and more blood than I though the tip of any finger could produce.
I’m proud to say that I was able to run around the house screaming, crying, flinging blood everywhere, WITHOUT swearing around the 6 and 10 year-olds I was demonstrating for! Not a single curse word. For a girl who likes to string at least 10 curse words together when I stub my toe, this was a feat of magnificent proportions.
So, my word to the wise: just buy the freaking candied ginger. The recipe didn’t even call for it to be homemade. I just had to be an over-achiever. Now I know better. Anyway, the ginger did not at all turn out the way the picture shows in the recipe. It tastes very good, don’t get my wrong. But it looks browner, more caramelized.
But the final jam product is amazing. Truly. Amazing.
Comice Pear Gingered Jam
(makes five 8 ounce jars of jam, with some left over for the fridge)
6 cups peeled, cored, chopped comice pears*
1/4 cup lemon juice
4.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup candied ginger
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole cloves
*Why Comice Pears? The name Comice comes from Doyenne du Comice, meaning, “top of the show,” as they’re often celebrated as the best pear variety. Originating in France, they are now grown in North America and have russeted skin, ripening to pinkish-brown. The flesh is smooth, juicy, and a warm, creamy white. A perfect, sweet jam pear.
GET READY TO JAM!
Prepare your jars and lids.
Make a spice bag with the cinnamon stick (break in pieces) and cloves. Set aside.
Combine pears and lemon juice in your preserving pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the spice bag, sugar and ginger. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent the jam from sticking, for 20-25 minutes. Jams don’t necessarily require you to test for the gel stage, but I tested the jam with a candided thermometer and removed it from the heat at exactly 220 degrees. It turned out to have a perfect jam texture.
Remove and discard the spice bag. Stir the jam and skim off the foam if necessary.
Ladle jam into hot, sterilized jars, filling to 1/4 inch of rim. Wipe jar rims clean. Cover with hot lids; firmly screw on rings, but do not force.
Process in a boiling canner bath for 10 minutes.