Pear Honey

Marion Stiles

This recipe came from my mother’s store of cooking treasures. For years, she has been making this exact pear honey to sell in her church’s Fall Apple Festival in Corryton, Tennessee, where all profits go to local charities. Mom’s pear honey has become a staple of the festival. People are forced to arrive early if they want any of the sweet treat, because all jars are always sold by mid-morning. In fact, she slaves away, trying to produce enough pear honey by the time fall arrives, but it never seems to be enough to satisfy the cravings of all the festival goers.

The process is relatively easy and quite rewarding, presenting only two foreseeable challenges. The first is that it can be time-consuming. Although the steps are simple and concise, the cook must be prepared to spend a large portion of the day in, or at least near, the kitchen. The whole process could take up to seven hours. Fortunately, the cook can go about other matters of the day, just occasionally checking or giving the pot a stir. The second possible challenge may be finding the correct type of pears. With our consumer society accustomed to obtaining anything needed from the supermarket isles, scavenging the neighborhood for pears may seem like a burden. However, I would like to think that it is part of the fun. It would be okay to use any type of pear, and other recipes on the Internet do not always specify. Mom, on the other hand, insists on the hard pears, which is easy for her to say because a friend drops off a large supply for her every year. 

Once you have the pears and a day at home, this traditional treat will not disappoint. I cannot find any specifics on the history or origin of pear honey, but my mother says all the “old timers” have always made it. My guess is that people finally found something delicious to do with all those hard, coarse pears in the yard. Traditionally, pear honey is served on biscuits or toast, similar to the way apple butter is used. 

Ingredients:

6 cups of ground pears  (These should be hard, coarse, “old-fashioned” pears. The soft ones found at the grocery store are not supposed to be used. These dense pears are the ones most commonly found in yards or on farms, due to their hardy nature.)

5 cups sugar

4 cups crushed pineapple

Sterile canning jars with lids

Peel and core the pears. Then, put pears through a grinder with a coarse blade.

If a grinder is unavailable, a food processor will work, but it is not the traditional way.

Combine the pears with the sugar and cook down until nice and thick.  This may take 2 to 4 hours.  The consistency should be similar to apple butter.  Add the crushed pineapple and continue to cook until thick and syrupy. It may take another couple of hours.  It is important to stir regularly but not constantly. Once desired thickness is achieved, pour into jars while still hot and close the lids.  Place jars in water bath canner and process for 10 minutes.