These are Krystalia pears, a miniature variety popular here in Greece.
I’d never seen them before moving to Greece and still think of them as exotic. Two will fit in the palm of your hand and each has about four mouthfuls of fruit. I like them for their delicate flavor and compact size. With their blushing skin, they’re like little dolls with rosy cheeks. Too cute.
On a trip to the farmer’s market last week I couldn’t help myself; the miniature pears were so adorable that I filled an entire plastic shopping bag with them. I headed home, not quite sure what I’d do with four pounds of miniature pears. Despite their popularity in Greece, there are few Greek recipes for dealing with a pear surplus. And really, the Krystalia’s flavor is so light and flowery that perhaps they are best eaten fresh. My father-in-law enjoys his, sliced, for breakfast. I like to stir mine into strained yogurt.
But the weather in Athens was too cold for yogurt breakfasts and I remembered a recipe I wanted to revisit, Naked Apple Butter from ohsheglows.com. I love apple butter, but often it is too sweet for my taste. Angela Liddon has developed a fantastic slow cooker method that sweetens the fruit through slow cooking, without additional sugar. I made an apple-peach version back in September and while the result was more apple-saucy than buttery, it was still packed with flavor and a great addition to my morning oatmeal. Ever since, I’ve wanted to try making a Greek-er fruit butter. With my bag of miniature pears and a few spare apples in the fridge, I decided to make a gingered pear-apple butter.
This recipe couldn’t be simpler; you don’t even have to peel the skin. Just wash, core and chop the pears, throw them in the slow cooker and set it on high for four hours. It makes the house smell like fall potpourri, warm and cozy. Next, blitz the cooked fruit in the blender until smooth, then return it to the slow cooker for another hour or so. I spread mine on buttered sourdough toast for breakfast.
The flavor is spicy, and ripe–the flavors you expect in late October, early November when the days are colder and the sky darkens earlier. We set our clocks back last Saturday and while I’ve had some trouble adjusting to the change, this gingered-pear butter makes my mornings warmer.
*Adapted from Slow-Cooker Naked Apple Butter by Angela Liddon on www.ohsheglows.com
Gingered Pear-Apple Butter
2.5 pounds (1.140 kilograms) green pears
2 medium sweet red apples such as Gala, Fugi, or Pink Lady
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Core the pears and apples and slice into medium-sized wedges. Place the cut fruit and cinnamon stick into your slow cooker and sprinkle with the fresh lemon juice. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours, stirring every hour or so.
2. Transfer the cooked fruit to a blender and pulse until smooth. At this point, it is apple-pear sauce.
3. Pour the sauce back into the slow cooker and stir in the ground ginger. Set the slow cooker on high heat for an additional hour or so, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. The fruit butter will thicken more once it cools. When cooled, transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
*Fruit butters made this way can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. It’s nice on buttered toast, oatmeal, waffles, and Greek yogurt. Although I haven’t tried it, I believe Gingered Pear-Apple Butter would jar well. It would also make a great hostess gift!