How was your weekend? Ours was pretty great. We bought pumpkins and drank pumpkin beer and ate pumpkin mac and cheese and I almost bought a pumpkin Halloween costume for Avery (but I didn’t, because my deep-down Pinterest-driven-yet-not-so-crafty personality wants to DIY this situation so she will probably end up being a baby for Halloween).
And to answer your obvious question, no I am not yet sick of the pumpkin. Or of the apples, or the pears or the quinces.
Have you ever tried a quince? They’re admittedly not the most beautiful or convenient of fruits, but when they are baked — or in this case, slow cooked with brown sugar and vanilla bean and pears to a sweet, caramelized fruit butter perfection — they are quite tasty. And by quite tasty, I mean erase the “quite tasty” and replace it with “YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM.”
The thing about fruit butter is, it’s crazy good when made in the slow cooker. I know it might take a little longer to make it that way as opposed to on the stovetop, but my friends, trust — the low-and-slow approach is the way to go. When you let the pears and the quinces and the brown sugar mingle together and cook down and almost caramelize over the heat of the slow cooker, magical things happen. Magical things that include spreading this on toast, pancakes, waffles, or mixing it in yogurt or oatmeal and most especially just eating it straight off the spoon.
It’s so simple to prepare, too — just a little peeling, shredding and mixing and the slow cooker basically does the rest. (Insert confetti emoji!)
Side note that must be discussed because it, too, was part of our weekend’s conversation: How do you pronounce “quince?” Is it like the “qu” in “queen?” Or is it more like a “k” sound at the beginning? Someone wiser in the ways of fruit pronunciations, please enlighten me.
ANYWAY, I used Bartlett pears for this recipe because they soften and cook down really well, but you can also use Bosc pears. And if you don’t have/can’t find a vanilla bean, vanilla extract will work as a fine substitute. Also, I really hope you can find quinces at your local grocery store, because you need to try them in this way, if no other way.
Finally, you can cook the fruit butter for 8 hours, but I highly suggest cooking it the full 12 hours (Errmmm, I KNOW. But it’s worth it) for the most buttery, caramely, delicious-y results.
And on that note, I’m off to have breakfast with my pear-quince butter — I mean, pear-quince butter with my breakfast, AHEM — and peruse Pinterest for the cutest DIY baby Halloween costume ever that requires absolutely no sewing, cutting, stuffing, taping and probably no gluing, either. Happy Monday!
- 2½ lbs Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and quartered
- 2½ lbs quinces, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ vanilla bean (or 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract)
- Grate the quartered pears and quinces, either feeding them through a food processor's shredding blade or using a box grater. Transfer the grated fruit to a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Add the brown sugar and salt to the slow cooker. Run a knife down the center of the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the bean (or the vanilla extract, if using in place of a vanilla bean) to the slow cooker. Stir until the ingredients are well combined.
- Cook, covered, on HIGH setting 4 hours.
- Remove and reserve the vanilla bean. Transfer the mixture, in batches if necessary, to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Return the mixture to the slow cooker along with the reserved vanilla bean.
- Cook, uncovered, on HIGH setting at least 4 hours (or up to 8 hours), stirring occasionally.
- Remove the vanilla bean. Cool completely. Transfer to jars, sealed tightly, and refrigerate up to 3 weeks.