Makes 12 half-pints
1 pound green apples (4 small apples), peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
7 pounds ripe but still firm Bartlett, Anjou or Seckel pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
7½ cups sugar
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¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3 to 4 large lemons)
2 vanilla beans, split
8 ounces walnut halves or pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In a large stainless-steel bowl, combine the apples, pears, sugar and lemon juice. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla beans into the bowl and toss in the pods. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic or a circle of parchment paper, pressed directly onto the surface of the fruit, and let it sit for at least eight hours and as long as 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, toast the walnut halves: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scatter the walnuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and cook until fragrant and lightly browned. Immediately transfer to a colander or coarse-mesh strainer set over a bowl or the sink, and toss them to release as much of the dust from their roasted skins as possible, to keep from clouding the jam.
3. When you’re ready to make the jam, put five metal teaspoons into the freezer for testing the jam later. Wash jars, rings, and lids in hot soapy water and rinse them. Fill a water-bath canner or large stockpot equipped with a lid and a rack halfway with water, and bring to a boil. Add the jars until covered by at least 1 inch of water (adding more water if needed), and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and cover to keep the jars hot until you fill them. (You can also sterilize jars in the dishwasher; just keep hot until using.) In a separate small saucepan, cover the lids with water and bring just to a simmer, but do not boil.
4. Pour the pear mixture into a large, wide pot over medium-high heat, bring to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, stirring with a heatproof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking or scorching, 25 to 40 minutes. (Lower the heat as the mixture thickens, also to prevent scorching.) Test for doneness by turning off the heat and placing a small amount of jam onto one of the teaspoons from your freezer. Return to the freezer for one to two minutes and check the consistency. If it’s too runny, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again. While you’re testing the consistency and the jam is off the heat, skim off any remaining foam. When the jam’s consistency is right, stir in the walnuts and butter, return the jam to a boil, and cook for another minute or so.
5. Remove the jars from the hot water. Pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch of head room. Run a chopstick around the inside edge of the jars to break up any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a moistened paper towel, and add the lids and screw on the rings until they are just barely tightened. Process by returning the jars to the canner or pot, making sure they are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and process for 10 minutes (from the time the water comes to a boil). Transfer the jars to a cooling rack to sit at least 24 hours undisturbed. They will seal as they cool; you may hear the satisfying pings as they do. Test seals after 24 hours by removing the rings and lifting the jars by the lids to make sure the lids don’t come off; transfer any jars that didn’t seal to the refrigerator, where they can be stored for up to three months. The sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to one year.
NOTE: Times given are for altitudes up to 1,000 feet. Consult a site such as freshpreserving.com for high-altitude directions
Nutritional information per tablespoon: 50 calories, 0 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar
From Post Food editor Joe Yonan, based loosely on recipes in “Mes Confitures” by Christine Ferber (Michigan State University Press, 2002).