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Edible gifts for the holidays: pear and ginger preserves

Photo: cheryl bennett/flickr


The season of giving is upon us, and between friends, family, neighbors and teachers, the list of good boys and girls gets longer year after year.  Take a day or two before the holidays to bang out a few of these delicious recipes; they make for a cost-effective and tasty treat, and nothing shows love more than a homemade gift.  Make sure to keep a few jars for yourself, too – they make a perfect addition to a holiday feast.


Pear and ginger preserves

The natural sweetness of pear in these preserves is tempered by ginger, which adds a pleasing subtle warmth and spice.  Pair a jar of this easy jam with some freshly-baked scones for the perfect tasty gift.

Makes about 6 half-pint jars

1 lemon

3 lbs pears, peeled, cored and cut into ½” dice

3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

1 ½ cups sugar

Special equipment: 6 half-pint jars with new canning lids & bands


Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the jars to the pot and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize.  Hold the jars in the hot water until you’re ready for them.  Spoon some of the hot water into a small bowl and add the jar lids and bands.  Place a small plate in the freezer.

Zest the lemon into a medium non-reactive saucepan.  Juice the lemon into a small bowl, then strain into the saucepan.  Add the pears, ginger and sugar to the pan, then bring the mixture to a boil.  Cook until pears have softened and have started to fall apart, around 20 minutes.  To test readiness, remove the plate from the freezer, add a dab of the jam, and return the plate to the freezer for 1 minute.  If after a minute it has firmed up, it’s good to go.  If it’s still runny, cook the mixture for 5 minutes longer and re-check.

Carefully remove the jars from the pot, draining the hot water back in as you go, and place them upright on a towel (return the pot of water to a boil).  Divide the jam between the jars, leaving 1/4” headspace at the top.  Wipe the rims with a clean paper towel, then top with sterilized lids and tighten bands until just finger-tight.

Place the jars back into the pot of boiling water (on top of a canning rack or kitchen towel to keep them from clattering around), make sure they’re covered by at least 1 inch of water, then keep at a steady boil for 5 minutes.  Carefully remove the jars with canning tongs and let them cool for a few hours without disturbing them, until the buttons on the lids depress.  Store in a cool, dry place for up to one year.  (If any of the buttons fail to depress, keep jar in refrigerator and use within a few months.)

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