Spiced Pears

img_3366I have never been crazy about pears; too sweet, too bland, too boring, too hard, too mushy.  Until a few years ago pears were those unappetizing fruits that cropped up for a short period of time each Fall only to be overshadowed by a vast variety of apples, pumpkins, and cranberries.  While pears always appealed to my inner romantic – the subject of many a still life, a nostalgic delicacy of the past, a wistful centerpiece – I never felt motivated or inspired to cook or bake with them.  It was only when out of necessity, while house sitting for a family with a yard full of fruit trees, that I had to start rethinking my philosophy on pears and figure out a few creative ways for using and preserving a large quantity of them.  I turned to Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation for inspiration, and her Spiced Pear recipe had me rethinking my entire approach to pears; spiced pears sprinkled across a spinach salad, in a sandwich, on top of a cracker with cheese – the possibilities are endless.

Below are two adaptations of the Krissoff’s original Spiced Pear recipe.  One made with red wine, as in the original recipe, and one made out of white wine for variation and because I could not bring myself to muddle that beautiful, bright red peel.  Both variations are suited to the canning process, but if you do not want to undergo the lengthy process you can safely keep the spiced pears in the refrigerator for up to a month.  The white wine variation is a bit unusual, and some might find it a bit too potent due to the floral notes given off by the mace and rosemary or the bite of the black pepper.  It offers an interesting contrast to the more traditional spice profile found in the red wine spiced pear recipe.

 

Red Wine Spiced Pears

Recipe makes 4 pint sized jars.

Sterilize 4 pint sized mason jars.

In each sterile jar place:

  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 – 2 peeled and thinly sliced Pear (A firmer variety of pear works best.  I used D’Anjou pears this time around since that was what was available at the market, but Krissoff suggests either seckel or fiorella pears.)
  • 1 slice of peeled Ginger Rootimg_3413
  • 4 – 5 whole Cloves

In a large sauce pan bring to boil:

  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • 2 1/4 cups White Vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 whole Nutmeg
  • 1 large slice of peeled Ginger Root
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1 cup Sugar

Boil the liquid down for another 10 – 15 minutes until all the flavors have melded together and the sugar has fully dissolved into the pickling syrup.  Use a spoon to remove the nutmeg and ginger from the liquid.  Pour the boiling liquid into the jars on top of the pears.  Place lids on the jars and seal. You can then process the jars for canning, or allow them to cool for a few hours before placing them in the fridge.

 

White Wine Spiced Pears

Recipe makes 1 quart sized jar.img_3403

Sterilize 1 quart sized mason jar.

In the sterile jar place:

  • 2-3 sliced Pears (I used red D’Anjou pears for their color, but once again the firmer the variety the better)
  •  2 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • 1 tsp whole Black Pepper corns
  • 1 whole Nutmeg
  • 1 whole Mace (Nutmeg and mace actually come from the same plant and therefore have complementary flavor profiles.  I find nutmeg to have a slightly more mellow flavor then mace, and mace to be a bit bolder with slight floral undertones.  If you can not find mace in the stores or stocked in your spice cupboard then just go ahead and use some more nutmeg.)

In a large sauce pan bring to boil:img_3406

  • 1 cup White Vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Water

Boil the liquid down for another 10 – 15 minutes until all the flavors have melded together and the sugar has fully dissolved into the pickling syrup.  Pour the boiling liquid into the jars on top of the pears.  Place lids on the jars and seal. You can then process the jars for canning, or allow them to cool for a few hours before placing them in the fridge.

img_3405

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