Apple and pumpkin butters line shelves come fall -- but pears, with their mild taste and, well, buttery texture, make the most versatile spread of all. Try it on pork chops, with hearty bread and a swipe of goat cheese, or in undercover spoonfuls straight from the jar.
12 Bosc pears, very ripe, cored, peeled, and cut into large chunks
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 strips lemon rind, about 2 inches in length
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1. Place all ingredients and 1/4 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook over a low flame 2 to 3 hours, until the fruit is soft.
2. Remove the vanilla bean, and put the fruit through a food mill on the smallest setting. Pour into canning jars, filling them within a half inch of top. Tap filled jars on table, and run a knife around sides to remove air bubbles. Make sure the top of the jar is clean; seal.
3. Refrigerate immediately. The butter will keep for two to four weeks.
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See tips for safe canning that will work in any season.