Spiced pickled pears

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Pears are bang in season in the UK at the moment, so when a friend presented me with more pears than we could possibly eat, I decided to get ahead with the homemade Christmas presents and make spiced pickled pears.

I’d had a look at a few recipes online but ended up just cobbling together a recipe based on what I had in. Which was roughly this:

Almost 2kg pears
700ml cider vinegar
Half a lemon
A few star anise
A teaspoon cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
A teaspoon juniper berries
A teaspoon black peppercorns
And 450g sugar, I used a mixture of dark soft, golden caster and demerara just because that’s what I had in.

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Start by slowly bringing all the ingredients, except the pears, to the boil, stiring occasionally. While that’s going on peel the pears, putting them in cold water as you go to stop them browning. Once all the pears are peeled and the sugar in the vinegar mixture has dissolved, drain the pears and add them to the pan. Cover and simmer for about 15/20 mins until the pears are tender.

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Meanwhile sterilise some jars with glass or plastic lids and once the pears are cooked put them in the jars before covering with the syrup and sealing. You’ll find the syrup has reduced and sweetened slightly (in fact mine had reduced so much I actually didn’t have enough to cover my fourth jar… We’ll have to eat that one pretty pronto… Shame!). In an unopened sterilised jar, immersed in the syrup, the pears should keep for around six months.

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They’re delicious served with cold cuts and cheese and would be a perfect boxing day alternative to the traditional pickles.

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Enjoy, I did! Well, it’d be rude not to 😎

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