Spiced Pickled Pears

Preserves , Desserts


1kg pears (pick out the hardest, smallest ones you can find)
350g soft light brown sugar
275ml white wine vinegar
275ml cider vinegar
7.5cm cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
½ lemon, cut into thin slices
½ level teaspoon whole cloves
1 level teaspoon juniper berries
1 level dessertspoon mixed pepper berries (These are a mixture of black, white and green peppercorns with allspice berries)


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 whisk round from time to time to dissolve the sugar crystals.
While that's happening, peel the pears. They need to be pared very thinly. This means using either a very sharp knife or a really good potato peeler. Take off all the peel but leave the stalks and the base florets intact. 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 washed thoroughly in warm, soapy water, rinsed, dried and heated in a moderate 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 5 minutes until it's reduced to about 15 fl oz (425 ml) 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


You will need a 1 litre jar with a glass or plastic lid (vinegar corrodes metal).


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