It is always special when something is passed from generation to generation. Some pass down fine china, antique furniture, jewelry, or books; some pass down treasured recipes for others to enjoy.
I was honored to be given a special family recipe for a conserve. For those not familiar with conserves, they are a thick fruit spread similar to a jam also containing dried fruit and nuts.
The original recipe reads as follows:
Pear Conserve from Nana Clement
Cut up 5 lbs. pears. Cover with 5 lbs. of sugar, stand overnight. Next morning add juice AND rind of 3 oranges and juice of 2 lemons. 1 lb. raisins. Boil slowly 2 hours or until thick. Just before taking off heat add 1/2 lb. walnut meats. Pour in hot, sterilized jars, add lids and cover with towels to let cool slowly.
I made some alterations to account for current canning safety guidelines and personal taste.
Here’s what I used: 10 cups diced sand pears, 4 cups sugar, 1 cup golden raisins, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1 lemon, 3 oranges, 5 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Start by mixing your diced pears, sugar, and bottled lemon juice. Cover and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
Thinly slice the entire lemon and whole oranges into thin rounds, removing seeds as you go.
I roughly quartered my slices, but you can leave them larger or chop them smaller, depending on what you prefer to see on your toast.
Add pears with juice, lemon, oranges, and raisins to a large stockpot.
Cook over medium high heat for 2 hours, being sure to stir regularly and to watch for scorching.
The chewy raisins will get nice and plump.
I didn’t even bother checking for the gel point, as I could tell already that it was pretty thick.
I toasted the walnuts at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes, turning after about 3 minutes.
My reason for toasting the walnuts was twofold: flavor and texture. Toasting brings out the flavor of the nuts, and I was also hoping to preserve as much of the crunchy texture as possible.
Stir the walnuts in just before ladling the hot conserve into hot jars for canning.
Process half pints in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
My yield was approximately 8 half pints.
This conserve is delicious on a hearty bagel. I really like the addition of the walnuts to a fruit spread. Now I’m thinking about adding nuts to other jams; how does an apple pie jam with walnuts sound? Or maybe carrot cake jam with pecans?
Have you ever eaten conserve before? How do you like to eat it? On a English muffin? Maybe with cheese and crackers?
Family recipes are wonderful! Do you have a top-secret family recipe?