So we are getting to that time of year, Christmas. I love Christmas food hot and cold. I think the cold meats and cheeses are probably my favourite part though. There is nothing better than a platter of homemade ham, cold turkey, local cheese and lots of tasty accompaniments, like these pickled pears. They are soft spicy but not too overpowering, they need to be pickled for at least 4 weeks so that’s why I am starting now (keep for at least 6 months). This is a Delia Smith recipe and she also suggests you can warm them through to go with hot meat like duck but for me cold is best. These would also make a really nice foodie gift that is a bit different for your friends, family or colleagues.
- 1 kg conference pears (pick the smallest and hardest you can find
- 350g soft light brown sugar
- 275ml white wine vinegar
- 275ml cider vinegar
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 1 small lemon , thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 1 tbsp of szechuan peppercorns
- Start off by putting all the ingredients except the pears in a large saucepan and place it on a low heat, allowing it to come slowly to the boil.
- Give everything a stir round from time to time to dissolve the sugar crystals. While that’s happening, peel the pears, a potato peeler works best, only remove the skin and leave the stalk and pears whole. As you peel each pear, plunge it into a bowl of cold water.
- Then, after peeling them, check that the sugar has completely dissolved into the vinegar, drain the pears and add them to the saucepan. Bring everything up to a gentle simmer and let the pears cook for about 20 minutes or until they look slightly transparent and feel tender when tested with a small skewer.
- In the meantime, the jar should be sterilised, I pop mine in the oven for 5 minutes. Then, using a draining spoon, transfer the pears and slices of lemon to the clean jar. Now boil the syrup furiously for about 2 minutes and pour in enough to fill the jar right up to its neck and completely cover the pears. Then scoop out the spices and add them to the jar as well. Any leftover syrup can be discarded. Cover and seal the jar and, when the contents are completely cold, wipe and label it and store it in a cool dark place for about 1 month before using.
- The pears will keep well for 6 months.