Pickling is a great way to preserve fruit for use in sandwiches or as hors d'oeuvres, as you would a sweet cucumber pickle or cornichon. These pears pair well with an aged Comte cheese or spicy Sottocenere cheese.
The syrup here tastes like an Aviation cocktail, with juniper berries and lemon complements. It can infuse and flavor even the most ho-hum-tasting fruit.
Make Ahead: You will have leftover syrup, which can be strained, if desired, and used to macerate sliced fruit or in cocktails. The jars can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
Servings: 5 - 10
Yield: Makes about 5 pints or 10 half-pints
- 5 cups sugar
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- One 3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, diced (a 3-ounce piece)
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 2 ounces creme de violette liqueur
- 20 whole cloves
- 20 whole juniper berries
- Peel of 1 lemon, cut into 5 or 10 pieces
- Peel of 1 orange, cut into 5 or 10 pieces
- 4 pounds pears (about 8 1/2 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
Wash and rinse 5 pint jars or 10 half-pint jars; put them into a stockpot with a rack or towel inside; cover the jars with water (by an inch or so) and bring to a boil over high heat; turn off the heat. Let the jars stand in hot water until you are ready to fill them.
Place new lids and rings in a small saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Heat over medium heat, but do not let the water come to a boil; turn off the heat. Let stand in hot water until you are ready to use them.
Combine the sugar, vinegar, water, ginger, vanilla bean and creme de violette in a 6-to-8-quart nonreactive (glass or plastic) pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean (or dry, reserve and add to a jar of sugar to make vanilla-infused sugar).
Drain the jars, lids and rings.
Place 2 to 4 whole cloves, 2 to 4 whole juniper berries, 1 lemon peel slice and 1 orange peel slice in each jar. Pack the pear slices tightly into each jar, leaving a generous 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.
Ladle the hot syrup into each jar to cover the pears, still leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Use a clean chopstick to gently stir the contents of each jar, releasing any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars so they are free of any food particles or syrup. Place the lids on the jars and gently tighten the rings.
Return the water in the pot (used to sterilize the jars) to a boil over high heat, with the rack or towel still inside. Use a jar lifter or tongs to place the jars upright in the boiling-water bath, making sure there is at least 2 inches of water above the jars. Process for 12 minutes.
Use the jar lifter or tongs to transfer the jars to a countertop to cool completely. Once cooled, the lids should be slightly depressed at the center; that is the sign of a successful seal.
Adapted from "Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit," by Laena McCarthy (Viking Studio, 2012).
Tested by Jim Webster.
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