Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Spiced Pickled Pears, or what to do with those fiddly little pears that are hard and never ripen

After my latest tweeted cooking session I had lots of requests for the recipe, so here it is. Basically the recipe is a slight adaptation of the one in Pam Corbin's excellent book Preserves in the River Cottage handbook series – this is a fabulous collection of books and handily fit into a Christmas stocking [hint, hint]. In our garden we planted two espalier pear trees to divide the garden. They both produce pretty flowers but one produces zero fruit, the other produces small, hard pears that never ripen. I have used them when cooking pheasant and then when they all blew off the trees in the gales I decided it was time to do some pickling. So my adapted version goes:

300ml of Sarson's pickling vinegar

150ml Aspall cyder vinegar

600g Billingtons caster sugar

About half a bottle of sushi ginger

1 hefty pinch of chilli flakes

A cinnamon stick

Handful of juniper berries

3 bay leaves

1.5kg small, hard, fiddly little pears

First put everything apart from the pears into a big pan and bring to a gentle heat that allows the sugar to dissolve and the flavours to infuse. Whilst that is happening peel, core and quarter the pears then pop them into the pan. Bring the pan back up to heat and then keep at just below simmering point, leave as long as it takes for the pears to become tender but definitely not mushy, you want them to keep their shape. Once they are cooked transfer to pre sterilised jars. Bring the liquid up to the boil and reduce down slightly ie about 5 minutes boiling; it should have a slightly syrupy quality. Then simply pour the liquid over the pears and seal. Ideally they should be kept for a month or so before eating with cheeses or meats.


  1. They're looking good!

    I've just started down the slippery path towards pickling too. Dang, it does take more time than expected ;)

    I might post my efforts too, as long as they turn out ok and doesn't kill me or my test pilots ;)

    // Mike

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