In early October some friends and I went to Jones and picked about 170 pounds of apples and pears. We had a great time divvying our harvest and I brought home a good haul: roughly 15 pounds of apples and 8 pounds of pears. My friend Julie and I made apple butter (yum!) and preserved the pears in a sweet-tangy syrup.
Dessert Pears in Vinegar
from Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning by the Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante
2 lbs. sugar
2 c vinegar
8 1/4 lbs. ripe pears, peeled
Combine the vinegar and the sugar in a large pot. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Arrange the whole pears, peeled but still with their stems, in layers in the pan. Boil, covered, over low heat for three hours, and then uncovered, for an additional three hours. Do not stir. Then, holding the pears by their stems, transfer them to jars or a stoneware pot. Cover the pears with the remaining syrup. Seal the jars. The pears will keep as long as jam.
Variation: Add one or two cinnamon sticks and a few cloves. Some recipes require less cooking: one and a half hours covered, followed by one hour uncovered.
Dessert pear and rice pudding
Dessert pear with cardamom whipped cream
While the process was pretty easy and fun, I think this was an instance when I simply should have enjoyed the raw fruit. The jars of amber pears looked lovely, but the contents left something to be desired. I couldn’t figure out what to pair them with, which led to more time and effort. Contrasted with canned applesauce or peach wedges, which are a hit without any additional effort, the preserved pears were an exercise in inefficiency. Perhaps I should create a food-preservation decision-making flow chart?