Cranberries are one of the things that make me buy non-local fruit. I just can’t not do it. I love them. I want to put them in everything I make. The pears are local! They’re from my friend’s farm in Potter Valley! I drove all the way over there by myself way out into the boonies out of cell phone range on a dirt road in my frail old pickup truck with the engine light on! That’s how committed I was to those beautiful bartlett pears. That should forgive the fact that I bought cranberries in a plastic bag from the grocery store. Shhh. SHHHHH. No judging. The obvious use for cranberry preserves is to put them with roast turkey, but I really love this preserve on regular old whole wheat toast on all kinds days that aren’t Thanksgiving. I think it tastes best when it’s cold and gray outside and you make a cup of tea and some toast. I am a huge fan of fall, winter, rain, sweaters, fires in the wood stove, etc., and this jam fits right in with all that stuff.
Also, if you want to be fancy it’s pretty amazing with soft chèvre or brie.
BRANDIED CRANBERRY PEAR PRESERVES
Cook Time: 1 hr., plus waiting overnight for fruit to macerate
Makes: 4 1/2 half pint jars
- 4 c. diced pears (peel and core first)
- 2 c. cranberries
- 3 c. sugar
- 2 tbs. lemon juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- a splash of brandy (how big is up to you)
Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive container. Stir well to coat the pears with sugar. Press a layer of saran wrap over the top of the mixture to prevent browning. Put the container in the fridge for 24 hours.
Bring boiling water canner to a boil and prepare jars and lids.
Transfer the mixture to a large, nonreactive pot. Turn the heat to high and cook until the jam reaches the gel point, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Partway through cooking, I like to give the mixture a few mashes with a potato masher to break up some of the fruit pieces to get a jammier texture.
Remove the bay leaf and discard. Ladle hot jam into hot, clean jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims and attach lids. Process for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.