Concentrated Pear Butter (Membrillo)

If you’ve ever made applesauce…this is not at all like it. Well, it starts out like it, but the process is continued until the result is thick enough to spread instead of pour. People who are old enough to remember what apple butter is/was, will see a slight resemblance.

Ingredients

6 pears, I like Bartletts, but any pear will work.
2 cups/450 ml. sugar.
1 tablespoon salt.
2 oz./60ml white vinegar.
4 oz./120g. cold butter.

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A clear Polycarbonate container for use with your immersion circulator. A dedicated, tight fitting lid for your circulator, which practically eliminates vaporization. A sous vide rack, which insures efficient transfer of heat and circulation of water.

Procedure:

Cut the pears into quarters; do not worry about the stems or seeds yet. Combine them with everything EXCEPT THE BUTTER in a Ziploc Gallon Bag. Squeeze out the excess air. Does not have to be perfect. Process via Sous Vide @
183Fx2 hours.

Shock to 70F/21C, refrigerate to 40F/4C.

Remove mixture from bag and run through a food mill, or blend it, or process it, just mash it all up, and then squeeze it through a strainer. That will catch the seeds. Spread the mixture out on a silicone mat or something that will neither stick to it or scorch it. Those silicone mats are great, and they are cheap now too. They save a lot of clean up.

Bake overnight in your oven @170F/77C, 12 hours usually does it. It will be quite dried out on the edges and darkening a bit. That is good. Stop and smell that. I mean, really STOP and smell the pears. Using a rubber spatula so you do not damage the mat, scrape the pear mixture back into your food processor or blender. Add the butter. Blend until heavenly smooth and glistening.

There is a reason to add the butter now, as opposed to before. Heat damages oil. Time damages oil. Light also damages oil. All oil. Butter is oil. If that butter melts and cooks with the pears all together, it will taste good hot, and pretty blah when it gets cold. This way, well, you will see. It’s also great served with sharp cheese and crackers, some dried figs, that sort of thing. On toast. You see Membrillo in the stores, the price they charge for it is shocking.

About

Pear Membrillo is yet another culinary misnomer. Membrillo is Spanish for Quince fruit, but it also refers to a sort of paste that the quince is used to make. Quince are inedible in their natural state, hard as a rock, bitter, and chock full of pectin, whatever a chock is. Grandma might have made quince jelly. They look kinda like a pear/apple, and primitive, lumpy, sort of Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal. But this stuff is the bomb. No cinnamon or other spices to distract from the subtle but deep pear flavor, it is stone-age simple and hearty, unpretentious.

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