Faced with an Asian pear tree dropping gnarled pears left and right, but also faced with a total disinclination on my part to go the whole canning nine-yards, what with painstakingly cutting up piles of gnarled pears and dealing with a boiling cauldron of water, I decided to try making a small batch of pear jam in the microwave. The aim would be to make a few jars and store them in the refrigerator. I took a recipe from “The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving.” The recipe is called “Microwave Winter Pear Amaretto Jam.” Let me mention up front that I didn’t have any Amaretto, so I stole some of Jim’s Jack Daniels. This was already more fun than most jam-making sessions! Also, I purchased a little bottle of Gerber Pear Juice to add, but I’m not sure it made much of a difference, so don’t hesitate to use the water. Other than that, I made the recipe as follows:
Microwave Pear Jack Daniels Jam Version 11-1/2 cups diced peeled pears 1/2 cup chopped peeled tart apple 2 tablespoons pear juice or water 1/2 box dry fruit pectin (I used “Sure Jell”) 2 cups granulated sugar 1 tablespoon Amaretto or ?
Combine pears, apple, juice or water, and pectin in a 2-1/2 liter microwavable bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on High for six minutes or until mixture comes to a boil, stirring twice.
Add sugar. Microwave, uncovered, on High for four minutes or until mixture returns to a full boil and boil hard for one minute. Stir in liqueur.
Ladle into sterilized jars. I used some 10-ounce jars that had previously held apples in light syrup. It’s not necessary to use canning jars. I boiled both jars so that when the jam was ready the jars and lids were still hot. The yield was 1-1/2 jars, not a large amount, but enough for me.
This recipe made a beautiful, quivering, translucent jam, but to my taste it was very sweet. So I came up with Version 2, which uses less sugar. The Sure Jell people say not to do this, or you will not have “proper set.” But I decided to try.
Microwave Pear Jam Version 2.2 cups diced peeled pears 2 tablespoons pear juice or water 1/2 box dry fruit pectin 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar juice of one lemon
I followed the same procedures as in Version 1. To my mind, this was the better jam. It was runnier than the first version, but there was no problem spreading it on a piece of toast. The lemon juice further cut the sweetness. So Version 1 is for the jam traditionalists out there, and Version 2 is for those who like a less sweet jam.
The bottom line is that making a small batch of jam in the microwave, and then refrigerating it, really works. The jam is delicious, and can be stored in the refrigerator for three weeks, according to experts. It’s so easy that I’m looking forward to trying more recipes, especially one for pear and plum jam that I recently ran across. It was fun making this jam, but could it have had something to do with the Jack Daniels? Mmmmmm.