Pear-Plum-Date Catsup

   The Central Texas fall Keiffer pear crop has been almost overwhelming. These are hard, crispy pears with a subtle sweet flavor that need to be ripened properly for happy results. Otherwise you might try them too soon and think that they are only fit for chunking at the squirrels. Full details on growing and handling these pears can be found online at Keys to the Keiffer Pear .

   The usual advice is to keep them in a cool place, 60*F – 65*F, for two to three weeks, even longer if you store them in the fridge. They will slowly soften and sweeten so that when you have nearly forgotten about them you suddenly have a great deal of ripe fruit on hand. They will still be crispy, like apples, but no longer tasteless and hard as rocks.

   Rita had told me some time ago about a young woman with an allergy to the nightshade family of plants which includes all peppers (sweet or hot), potatoes, and tomatoes. News about this kind of allergy had started a thought process around catsup; and if you can make catsup then barbeque sauce cannot be far behind. The internet turned up several recipes for plum catsup and there are even commercial brands available. But with all of these pears on hand and my bent for simplifying and using locally available wherever possible this Pear-Plum-Date Catsup is what evolved.

   Also these steps can be done entirely separate; by a couple of days if need be. So if you are busy, tired, interrupted, whatever, you can still make this catsup.

Pear-Plum-Date Catsup - really?

Pear-Plum-Date Catsup - really?

4-6 pears, at least somewhat ripe
6 dried plums (we used to call them prunes)
6 dates (Medjool was in the pantry)
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice

   1. Wash the pears and rinse well. Cut out all bits of the gritty core but do not peel. Cut them into small pieces that your blender can handle easily. You should have a heaping two cups of chopped pears. Cut up the dried plums to be sure there are no residual pit pieces. Remove the seeds from the dates. Put all of the fruit into a one-quart saucepan and add about a tablespoon of water. Pour the evaporated cane juice in and stir a bit. The sugar at this stage is to help the pears release their juices. The cooking is done over very low heat for 30-60 minutes (this depends on your pears and patience). Set the timer every 15 minutes to stir and check several times during this part of the process. You don’t have to hover, just be sure you can hear the timer. Turn off the heat when the pears are fork tender and go do something else – knit, work out, fix dinner, take a nap.

   2. Put the cooled, cooked fruit through the blender. The fruit is tender but the mixture is thick so the sides need scraping down to get all of the bits incorporated. At this point I poured the pureed fruit back in the pan and put it in the fridge to finish up the next day.

   3. Put the pan back on the stove. Add the following ingredients, heat and stir:

1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice

The mixture should be thick enough to mound in your spoon but slide easily back into the pot. If it is not thick enough then simmer on low heat until it is the consistency that you prefer. The hot mixture will spatter your stove at this point so you may want to tilt a lid on the pot.

   4. Spoon your catsup into clean jars with good screw-on lids. This recipe makes about 2 cups with a little extra for testing on a burger.

   Other internet recipes suggested cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper in various combinations. After I added the vinegar and allspice I tasted a tiny bit on a spoon. It reminded me so much of my former favorite Hunt’s Ketchup* that I stopped right there. Follow your taste buds to create your own favorite combination!


*There is inconclusive information available regarding gluten in this product. Some references say it is gluten-free and others say it is only wheat-free thus ignoring other gluten contaminates. The Hunt’s website says nothing which in itself says a lot. Also, a major ingredient is high fructose corn syrup – homemade catsup sounds better all the time!



  1. […] constraints but always gluten-free. Some recipes are egg-free, dairy-free, vegan, nightshade-free (pear-plum-date ketchup), and/or even grain-free. Next on my to-do-list are frugal, gluten-free recipes based on staples […]

  2. […] constraints but always gluten-free. Some recipes are egg-free, dairy-free, vegan, nightshade-free (pear-plum-date ketchup), and/or even grain-free. Next on my to-do-list are frugal, gluten-free recipes based on staples […]

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