I worked a deal this year at Thanksgiving: I’d make two pie crusts in exchange for a jar of pear butter from my friend, Libby Volgyes.
I definitely got the best end of that stick.
Libby is known to her co-workers at The Palm Beach Post for her domestic goddess status when it comes to canning and preserving. However, she admits she’s not a baker – and rolling out a pie crust sends her into hiding.
So when I offered to provide the crusts, she offered to trade some pear butter.
Ding! ding! ding! My food memory box was calling.
Jars in the cabinets
For several summers in a row, my mom would spend some summertime with my Aunt Eleanor in Pace, Fla., helping her shell peas and beans and making jellies, figs when they could get them, and my favorite: pear butter.
They’d pick what I call “sand pears” – hard and gritty – from my other aunt across town in Pensacola, Aunt Sis. (Perloca, or Loki, Linton to most). The huge pear tree produced bushels of the fruit almost every year, it seemed. It had a few off years. My grandmother had planted the tree, I think behind her house which abutted the Linton residence.
Mom and Aunt Eleanor would spend mornings peeling the pears, and the afternoon cooking and canning.
She’d bring home jars of the stuff, to line up in the cabinets with the blueberry jelly, figs and pear preserves.
I’d grace a few very lucky friends with some if I were feeling generous.
Served on one of mom’s biscuits, hot from the oven and pooled with real butter and pear butter – lordy! I can hear my dad say, “This is fine eatin’, Mama.”
Libby’s pears have a different texture than my mom’s – Libby’s are full of pear chunks, while mom pureed hers, coming up with a texture and flavor similar to apple butter. The syrup is clearer, too – mom used so much cinnamon, it darkened them somewhat.
I loved the flavor of Libby’s, however – with extra lemon, they have a brightness from the citrus which enhances the pear flavor as well.
No time these days to make biscuits, I just spooned them onto a piece of cinnamon toast. So good, I might have to make another to be certain. She should think about selling these at the green market – they’d be a huge hit. I’ve got a her company name, too: Fine Eatin’.
She isn’t selling them yet, but I’ll let you know if she finds time to do so. Meanwhile, I’m off to make another slice of toast and enjoy the memories.