Honey, per se, does not figure in this recipe at all and to me the name is rather a mystery. Some recipes, of more recent vintage suggest using pear juice from a can (horrors) or the peelings and juice left over from canning pears and some include pineapple, but that is not the way I learned as a child. I have found recipes dating back to antiquity that combine pears with honey but have found references to this “easy” pear preserve from Georgian times, using sugar, probably less refined than the granulated sugar of today.
This was my grandmother’s method and it is fairly simple – just takes time and patience.
I published this recipe more than 20 years ago on Prodigy and on SOAR Searchable Online Archive of Recipes – now RecipeSource.com.
4 medium sized pears, peeled and cored, cut in half. They don’t need to be fully ripe, but should have good flavor. I prefer Comice pears for flavor but this is personal preference.
2 1/2 to 3 cups sugar. (If using superfine sugar use the smaller amount. If using Turbinado or coarse raw sugar, you may need a bit more.)
Place about 1/3 of the sugar on the bottom of a heavy pan (I recommend enamel cast iron) that is large enough to hold 4 pear halves laying flat, cut side down.
Place the rest of the pears, cut side up, in and around the ones on the bottom.
Pour the remainder of the sugar evenly over the top of the pears.
Cover the pan and place over low heat and cook for 1 hour.
Remove the pan lid and continue cooking over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
Using a potato masher (the wire type) smush the pears and mix well with a wood spoon (or silicone spoon, just don’t use metal).
Return to the low heat and cook for an additional 45 minutes.
Pour into a quart jar (or two pint jars and seal. Store in the fridge unless you want to process it in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Then it can be stored at room temperature if the seal forms a vacuum – that is the metal top “dimples in” when cool.
If there is some that won’t fit into the quart jar, use it immediately or within a couple of days.
Optional: You can add a teaspoon or so of grated fresh ginger to the pears after they have been mashed. You can also add a small amount of “sweet” spices – but not so much as to overpower the flavor of the fruit. No more than an eighth of a teaspoon of allspice or nutmeg — in my opinion cinnamon and cloves are too strong for the delicate flavor of the pears.