Apple, Pear and Lemon Thyme Conserve
The summer gives us a cornucopia of fruit, and as we move into autumn, preserving the bounty takes precedence of mind. I love adding herbs and spices to everything I throw together in the kitchen, and searched for something to do with a glut of pear and apples (the apples from our own apple tree) and knowing from previous experiments that thyme and pear goes well (try a pear and thyme martini), found a few recipes online that I played with, and wrote down the following recipe:
- 4 cups apples (cored and chopped, skin on)
- I used a combination of the apples off our tree (no idea to the cultivar but it is a small red sweet eating apple that keeps shape when cooked) and Granny Smiths.
- 4 cups pears (cored and chopped, skin on)
- I used a gifted box of Packham's Triumph, Bartlett and Nashi pears.
- 2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon local honey (optional)
- zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- sprigs of lemon thyme (or common thyme)
- I used quite a large bunch, but I like the taste of herbs, maybe start with 3-5 sprigs, strip the leaves off if you want the leaves to remain in the end product, or leave them intact so you can lift out the sprig (minus a few leaves) at the end of cooking.
- 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
- Add all the ingredients except the brandy to a jam pan or large pot and leave to infuse for about half an hour.
- Now set the heat to medium and warm the mixture, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Increase heat and boil for 20-25 minutes, ensuring the mixture does not burn (stir every now and then).
- Add the brandy, stir through and continue to boil for another 5 minutes.
- By now the fruit should be translucent and the syrup should thicken, if not, boil for a bit longer.
- You can mash the soft fruit a little bit so that there are mashed bits and whole bits - depends on your preference.
- Once setting point is reached (105C), take off the heat and decant into warm, cleaned and sterilized jam jars.
- Process in a hot water bath for 12 minutes.
- Leave to cool for about 12 hours before cracking open a jar and enjoying.
This is very sweet. I think you can temper the sweetness a bit with using more tart apples, or adding more lemon juice. You need the sugar to create the "jamminess", so don't use less sugar.
I think this pairs wonderfully on crackers with a strong cheese... yum!
I have been thinking of adding a bit of cinnamon too. Or maybe a dash of vanilla. I'll try that next time I make it.