Cooking with Pears, and How to Preserve Them

It’s pear season! And how we love this locally grown fruit, so soft and lush when they’re perfectly ripe. Here are a couple of ways to cook with them, plus one dynamite recipe for preserves.

FENNEL AND PEAR SANDWICH

Toast a few walnuts. Thinly slice a fennel bulb – about two tablespoons worth (save the rest of the bulb for another sandwich). Cut a few slices off a ripe cucumber and cut up half a ripe pear. Slice some havarti cheese. (Foxhill’s fenugreek havarti is my favourite in this sandwich!) Spread multi-grain bread with mayo, and cover with walnuts. Top with sliced fennel, cucumber and pear, cucumber and havarti, and a little freshly ground pepper. Delicious!

The combination of the fennel and pear are really lovely; the celery-like crunch and faint licorice flavour of the fennel pair really nicely with the sweet and mellow pear. If you had a lot of fennel to use up, this would also make a lovely side salad – simply combine the chopped fennel and chopped pears with some walnuts and bring it all together with some mayo or a white balsamic vinaigrette.

PEAR, PROSCIUTTO AND PESTO PASTA

1 serving of pasta, your choice of shape
2 cubes of frozen pesto
1 pear, sliced
2-3 slices of prosciutto
2-3 Tbsp parmesan, grated (if not already in the pesto)
oil or butter for the pan

Defrost pesto. Bring a pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook until al dente. In the meantime, saute sliced pears in oil or butter at medium heat until golden. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, sauteed pears, pesto, prosciutto, and parmesan.

PINOT POACHED PEARS WITH ROSEMARY AND VANILLA

7 cups water
3 Tbsp lemon juice
4 lbs small pears (about 16)
1 sprig rosemary
1 1-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 cups granulated sugar (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups pinot noir
1/2 cup white wine vinegar

Prepare canner. In a large bowl combine 6 cups of the water and the lemon juice. Peel pears and cut in half lengthwise, remove core and stem. Add pears to lemon water as they are peeled and cut, to prevent browning. In a large pot, combine rosemary, vanilla bean, sugar, wine, vinegar and the remaining (1 cup) of water. Bring to a boil over medium hear, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and return to a boil.

Drain pears, and add them to the pot. Simmer, gently turning pears occasionally, for 5 to 15 minutes until pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a bowl; cover and keep hot. Increase heat to high and boil liquid (uncovered) for about 10 minutes or until reduced by 1/3 and syrupy. Reduce heat to low. Discard rosemary and vanilla bean.

Pack hot pears into hot jars. Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rime and place hot lid on jar. Screw band down until finger-tip tight. Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process for 20 minutes.

For a complete canning how-to, check out our posts Canning 101 and Canning 201, or download our guide How to Can Your Harvest.

Updated from posts originally published in 2012

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