Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rosemary Spiced Pickled Pears

Sometimes I can get particularly precious with recipes.  This is one of those.  I’ve been asked for this recipe many times over and somehow felt disinclined to let go of it.  Maybe it’s because I often take it as a gift and once it’s out there then I feel it would no longer be special to me (or people will see just how easy it is and feel cheated?).  I’m selfish, I know.  I was told often enough by my nearest and dearest when I was younger.  So now I am going to be very grown up and magnanimous and share the recipe. 

Now, I confess it’s not that noble a gesture for, if you Google the title, you’ll get many variations on similar recipes.  I spotted one using star anise and thought that would be worth a go.  This particular one comes from a class my sister and I attended many, many years ago on edible Christmas gifts and I think it comes from Leanne Kitchen.   I’ve been making it ever since, slightly altered from the original.  I love the warm, amber syrup with the cool pears.

Serve the pears, either in quarters or chopped, with meats or cheeses.  I love them served with curries or to replace ordinary pears in salads with baby spinach and walnuts.  One friend uses the leftover liquid poured over boiled white rice (you can also splash it in dressings), whilst another has eaten the pears with ice cream even though he was warned they were savoury, not sweet – he liked them.

No matter how you try them, enjoy.  I feel a much nicer person now.

Rosemary Spiced Pickled Pears

Recipe makes about 4 jars, depending on jar size.

2 cups (500ml) white wine vinegar
2 cups (500ml) water
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons hot chilli flakes
several sprigs of fresh rosemary*
6 Beurre-Bosc pears

*Snip (don’t chop) the fresh rosemary sprigs to fit the jars you are using.  I normally work on about 2 sprigs to each jar depending on the size of the jars. 

Place the vinegar, water, sugar, chilli flakes and rosemary sprigs in a large pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.

In the meantime, peel the whole pears leaving the stalks attached.  Cut each pear into half, then quarter (still leaving stalk attached).

Add the quartered pears to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until pears are soft.  Stir gently once or twice to ensure pears are evenly covered. 

While the pears are simmering, sterilize your jars and lids.  I wash mine in hot, soapy water, rinse the jars and microwave them (still with water attached) for one minute.  I pour boiling hot water from a kettle over the lids.  I also hot wash some tongs and a pouring jug to use when filling the jars.

Distribute the pears and rosemary sprigs evenly between the jars.  Unless you have a pouring spout on your pan, pour the remaining liquid into a pouring jar then into each jar, right up to the top.  Place lids on top and twist to ensure they are sealed.  Wipe each jar with a warm, damp cloth to remove residue syrup. 

Store in a cool, dark cupboard.  Try to leave for a month to develop the flavours.

Serve either in quarters or chopped with meats, cheeses, etc.  They are also particularly good with curries or make lovely gifts.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Eye-catching and pretty in their little trademark polka dot covers and white bows, I first discovered Christine Ferber jams years ago on Chocolate and Zucchini website.  Back then, her unusual flavour combinations were less common.  It was only natural then that they should be on my Paris list in 2004. 

Some time later, I bought her book Mes Confitures and made the Belle-Helene jam of pears and dark chocolate (see photo below) – a very sweet concoction which went well with pancakes.

Back in Paris in April this year, a Christine Ferber confiture was back on my list.  I found some at Galeries Lafayette and after much humming and hawing, I selected the Gerwurztraminer and Rose Petal Jelly because of its pale delicateness and the little rose petals that you can’t see in the photo as they are at the bottom of the jar.  Thankfully it survived the trip home, swaddled in soft clothing in my suitcase.

While I could spend hours admiring the jar, I do want to try the contents soon.  Now what to pair it with?  Spread over a light, sweet brioche, perhaps, so as not to overpower what I think will be a delicate flavour.   Any other ideas?

I really do urge you to take a look at the exquisite flavours here.