Pear Jam with Saffron Infused Honey and Cardamom
The summer after high school I worked sorting Bartlett pears at the Scotts Valley Fruit Exchange in Lake County California. I thought I would never touch or eat another pear again in my life. But, here I am years years later making pear jam in my kitchen with pears, honey and saffron grown in Lake County. A few weeks ago My husband and I went to visit friends in Kelseyville at their finca, they generously supplied me with the pears from their orchard-Finca Castelero- for my jam. I will never forget getting up early in the morning and riding my bike across the valley from my cousin's house to work a long hot day sorting pears. I remember thinking whoever came up with the idea of creating a cooperative to sort, pack and send pears from family farms, including my cousin's family farm on what is now called Hendricks road, to markets all over the country really had a good idea! I never looked at pears in the grocery store the same way again, they always got a quick second inspection to see if they had arrived in the right place.
The saffron infused honey came from a farm-stand in Kelseyville called Peace and Plenty Farm, the saffron color of the honey is so pretty, it just glows.
Recipe and Ingredients for Pear Jam with Saffron Infused Honey and Cardamom
Makes 6-1/2 pints
5 pounds ripe Bartlett pears
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 &1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons saffron infused honey
2-3 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom, to taste
Peel and core the pears, cut them into 1/2" pieces, place them into a bowl with about 2 cups of water and a tablespoon of lemon juice to keep their color as you finish cutting them into pieces.
When all the pears are cut up and in the lemon water, drain them.
Place the pears back in the bowl and stir in the remaining lemon juice.
Add the sugar, honey and cardamom to the pears and stir together, let rest for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.
Turn the pears into your preserving pan, bring to a boil and continue cooking over a high heat until the pear mixture reduces and comes to the gel point, about 35-40 minutes.
Ladle the hot jam into six prepared jam jars, leave 1/4" headspace, wipe the rims and seal with lids.
Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Note: jam will continue to thicken in the jar over the next 24 hours.
There are different ways to test jam if you're not sure it has reached it's gel set.
I like to put saucers in the freezer to test for gel, place a spoonful of jam on a freezing saucer, put it back in the freezer and check it in a few minutes. You will see a thicker puddle of jam wrinkle as it gels on the plate when it's ready to be put in jars.