Sunday, August 10

Spiced Pear Paste

I spent quite a bit of yesterday standing at the stove stirring. I had a craving for fruit paste and blue cheese so i set about to make some pear paste as I had quite a few lemon bergamot pears. I have never before made fruit past of any sort, though i have eaten my fair share over the years. I looked in all my recipe books and on the internet and could not find one recipe that was made from pears alone or at least mainly pear. The closest i got was the ABC website which had a recipe for tomato, pear and lemon paste which sounded lovely but the main fruit were tomatoes to a ratio of 2:1. I wasnt too sure about using quince paste recipes with a straight swap of fruit weight as quince has alot more pectin than pears so the fruit/sugar ratio is more stable. So i pretty much had to wing it using the ABC recipe as a guide and i reduced the amount of sugar as there was no sloppy tomato to stabilise. Here's what i did.

Spiced pear paste

1.2 kg of pears
2 granny smith apples
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
small piece of vanilla bean
rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 cups sugar
pectin (optional)

Core and chop pears and apples and put in heavy based saucepan with the spices and lemon and simmer with the water until fruit is very mushy. Strain through seive or blend in food processor after removing spices.

Return to pot and add sugar and stir for 4 hours on a moderate heat to reduce the mixture. It should be quite thick and stay seperated when its ready. But Im impatient....and thats the recipe as it should have been....
However, i did not remove enough water from the fruit mixture and/or there was not enough pectin in the pears and apple, although the fruits were quite firm, so the end result was quite sloppy and it did not setas firmly as i was anticipating. If I had stirred for the 4 hours and not just 2 it may have been alot firmer but i started late in the day so by 11pm i was ready for bed. Now there may be a reason why there are no recipes that were easily obtained on the internet for pear paste! and next time I would add pectin to the recipe and possibly bake the pears so as to reduce reduction time. But for now my pear paste will get served in bowl and not directly on a cheese board.

The house smelt really heavenly yesterday with the sweet pear, apple and vanilla and the 'paste' tastes quite fantastic.


Anonymous said...

After a country drive through the Adelaide Hills, I came to a property that had pears for home I also wanted to make pear paste and found the ABC recipe too....I also cooked the pears for hours not really knowing how long to cook them for..after i refrigerated them for two days I realised it wasn't going to set enough to cut and serve with cheese..tonight i have added gelatine to the mixture and placed it back in the fridge..i will find out tomorrow if it has worked!!!

Kel said...

hi anonymous, thats exactly what i did the next day..added gelatine! and that worked but it certainly wasnt servable in slices!

Svetlana said...

Recipes for quince paste recommend that you put the paste in trays lined with baking paper and dry it for about one week in a warm area. This helps to firm the paste and for any excess water to evaporate.

Kel said...

thanks svetlana- so true

Kelly said...

addendum- drying the paste in the oven as suggested works very well, without the gelatine.

JohnMich said...


The days of long stirring sessions are over! Trust me! Read on.

Michelle and I had just come back from Stanthorpe, Queensland with among other things local cheeses and fruit pastes ($5/100gms) which we liked very much so I thought I might have a go at paste making and after a lot of research including pate de fruit, Sephardic candies and dolce da frutas.

Fortunately there are a lot of cooks around who will share their knowledge - and combining all that is what I did.

Using your recipe but exactly half of everything plus 2 tsp of JammSetta a powdered pectin that can be bought in any supermarket in OZ the method was -

Make the puree then weigh it, mine was 370gms

Added 370 gms of caster sugar for easy incorporation and the 2 tsp of pectin. Stirred this on stove top until sugar dissolved.

Put the mix into slow cooker set on low with the lid on but tilted to allow easy steam escape.
(A word of caution - don't dump screaming hot sugar mix into a cold crock - it might crack, get the crock hot with water first then dry it out.)

It will take a fair while (30 mins +/-?) before you can see crock pot causing bubbles at edge of mix but after that just come back every 20 minutes and give it a stir for a minute or two. Use a timer to remind you.

How did I know it was thick enough? Two methods were suggested by other sites - if the wooden spoon left a clear trail when dragged across bottom of pot or the mix would not drip from a whisk it was done. Being a belt and braces sought of bloke I took it to the 'both' stage.

I didn't have a small enough pan so used a 40x110 mm spring form cake mould - a very small one. I just buttered it up and the mix just fitted.

Then, and this is just beautiful, as suggested I put the lot in the oven on defrost setting - fan but no heat - at about 10 pm. At 6am I pulled it out de-sprung it then chuckling with glee -

Photoed it! At every stage of unveiling actually.

Weighed it at 410 gms so between the crock pot and the oven 740-410 = 330 gms of water had been evaporated away. That's 1 1/3 cups!

Tested for firmness. I put a thin metal skewer through the centre of the disc and lifted it up with the skewer held horizontally. The weight was just sufficient to start the skewer slicing very slowly through paste so it was very firm in fact, see below, perhaps too firm.

The taste? Oh! Yes! Exactly as you said 'delicious'!

The hardest part of all this was pushing the pulp through the sieve - getting the last drop of puree out. (Scots mother)

Total stirring time while in slow cooker - no more than 20 (repeat 20) minutes because it only involved a bit of a stir every 20 minutes or so and a fair bit of testing as it got towards the end.

My assessment-

The pectin powder and the slow cooker got rid of the endless stirring. The oven ‘defrost’ drying worked well.

I think it was cooked a bit too long. I think it might have been done as a paste at the 'leaving a trail across the bottom of the pot' stage. The 'not dripping from whisk' was quite a bit later and by then it was well on the way to being a fruit jelly/candy, I think. The way it starts to toughen up on the back of the spoon too is a bit of a pointer.

But nevertheless now I can try other things without being put off by thoughts of 4 hours stirring.

Oh! And for the price of some very cheap ingredients made $20.50 retail worth of paste - but money isn't everything - it's great to have done it myself as you know, and I know what is in it!

I hope it works for you too!

Regards, John

JohnMich said...

Kelly - an addendum to my last comment.

I think the equal weight of sugar with puree might also have been a mistake, next time I will use sugar in same ratio as your recipe.

New Item - QUINCE Paste.
Quinces are in season now so as this seems to be the most favoured paste I decided to have a go.

Using the Sally Wise recipe and only two quinces.

I peeled the quinces as much as possible - they are so lumpy - and sliced and cored them.

Floated them in boiling water until v. soft then - sheer laziness - blitzed them to a puree in food processor.

Added equal volume of caster sugar plus 1 teaspoon of JamSetta pectin (see previous comment).

Cooked in crock pot on low and about an hour and a half later with very little stirring got to Sally's 'leaving a trail with wooden spoon on bottom of pot' stage.

Dried in pan on bench overnight, not in oven, and bingo (quite humbly) I can tell you it was as good as the commercial variety!

The use of the crock pot is the big trick to save enormous effort - unfortunately I can't find site that suggested it. I want to go back and thank them

Regards, John

Anonymous said...

Try making caramelised fruit pastes...

the method is just like jam only add less water, the sugar earlier and simmer for longer.

It's a much easier way to go and so delicious!

I made plum paste this summer, it took an hour and half, and set thick and yummy.

I made a pear paste similarly last week...

much less fusing around, and you can still taste the flavour of the fruit!
Be sure to use a really good organic sugar and purest vanilla extract.
And a waterbath so it will last for ages in the cupboard.

You shouldn't need to add pectin or gelatine (...?) if you use enough lemon juice and cook it at a true simmer, and past the setting point, until it's really thick. This will happen eventually and if you have it at a real simmer, this method shouldn't take anywhere near 4hrs to reduce.

Wonderful with camembert... xo

Graeme said...

Found that if I blended all the fruit before i cooked it in approx 2.5 hours it was ready to put in my tin to cool. The recipe works well.

angela said...

Also, did you leave the skin seeds in cheese cloth to cook with the fruit? That seems to be an important step with the quince paste no matter where I look for a recipe.

Kelly said...

no i didnt leave seeds in, possibly why i had issues!

Anonymous said...

This is the most amazing conversation thread ever! Can't wait to give the crock pot fruit paste method a go!
Thanks everyone for sharing your experience :)

Anne Foston said...

coming late to this conversation, ... I found a recipe for pear Paste that is quick and easy on CSR website using their Jam sugar ( has added pectin). I can recommend it.