canning party + spiced pickled pears
It was a brisk, sunny afternoon when five brown-haired, boot-stompin’ ladies and one golden-locked Viking chap gathered in a bright pink kitchen for a canning party. Emily of Nothing-in-the-House was hosting, and we were armed with 30 jars, $30 worth of onions, and heaping piles of pears, peppers, and garlic.
We made three things that day: spiced pickled pears, onion marmalade, and a spicy/sweet ginger garlic jam. I learned that if you cut onions with a candle lit nearby, your eyes don’t burn and tear up. We also learned that $30 worth of onions takes a long, long, long time to cook down.
Mercifully, at least one of our recipes, the spiced pickled pears, was low effort and high reward. Slice the pears, prep the pickling syrup, poach the pears, pack them into sterilized jars, and process in a boiling water bath. Wait a few weeks for the pears to ripen in the spiced syrup, then pop open the jar and enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or served over ham or poultry. The leftover pickling syrup would make a delightful cocktail.
This weekend, Emily is paying me a visit in my little kitchen for part two of our blog collaboration! Any thoughts on what we should make? Since Nothing-in-the-House is a pie blog, pie requests or variations on a theme are most welcome. And a post on the most recent DC Food Swap is coming soon… stay tuned.
spiced pickled pears
adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook
1 1/4 cups cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 oz. ginger root, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. whole allspice
1 t. whole cloves
2 1/4 lbs. small, firm pears
In a large pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, and spices (except the cloves) over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
Peel the pears, keeping the stems attached, and slice in half or thirds if they’re too large to fit into jars whole. Stud each pear with 2 or 3 cloves. Add the pears to the pickling syrup and simmer gently for 15-25 minutes until they’re tender but not mushy.
Pack the pears into warm, sterilized jars. Bring the syrup to a boil for 5 minutes, then ladle it over the pears. Clean the rims, screw on the lids, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Remove from the boiling water bath and set the jars in a draft-free, undisturbed area for 24 hours until cool. Refrigerate all jars that don’t seal. Wait one month before using. Will keep for one year.