Pam Corbin's Spiced Pickled Pears
I love pickled fruits and always look forward to opening a jar to serve with cold poultry and ham. Small, hard pears such as ‘Conference’ are ideal for use in this recipe, and it’s a very good way to deal with a barrel-load of them. If you stick with the basic quantities of sugar and vinegar, this recipe can easily be adapted for use with other fruits and different spices (see the variations below).
Makes 2 x 680g jars
300ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
400g granulated sugar
25g fresh root ginger, bruised
5cm piece cinnamon stick
1 tsp allspice berries
1lkg small, firm pears
Put the vinegar, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and allspice berries into a large pan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, start peeling the pears, keeping them whole and with stalks attached. Stud each pear with 2 or 3 cloves and add to the hot vinegar. Simmer the pears very gently until they are tender but not too soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and pack them into warm, sterilised jars.
Bring the spiced vinegar syrup to the boil and boil for 5 minutes, then strain it over the pears. Cover the jars with vinegar-proof lids. Keep for at least a month before using. Consume within a year.
Different spices can be used – try cardamom and coriander, with a flake or two of dried chilli.
Pickled peaches: plunge 1kg peaches into a pan of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove. Immerse them in cold water briefly, then peel. Proceed as for the pear recipe, but simmer the peaches for only 3-4 minutes.
Pickled crab apples: Prick 1kg crab apples all over with a needle or skewer (this will prevent the skins bursting). Use well-coloured ornamental varieties such as ‘Harry Baker, ‘John Downie’ or ‘Pink Glow’.
© From “Preserves”, published August 2008 (Bloomsbury Publishing)