When I originally got the Asian pears from Apple Annie’s I was going to make pear sauce with them. However, after thinking on it some I decided that cooking them beyond recognizable form just doesn’t do justice to a pear that is so crisp and crunchy. After some searching I found a recipe for Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon. You do lose some of the crispness of the pears but you still have a nice solid pear. They are quite yummy but I honestly think they are little on the sweet side and would probably cut the sugar back a little bit but the after tang from the vinegar and the hints of lemon and ginger are divine! I made roughly two batches and cut the pears into smaller than quarters as they were on the large side and I got 5 jars out of the batch. Here is the recipe
- 2 pounds Asian pears, or any other sweet, firm pear (3-4 pears)
- 4 (2-inch) pieces of lemon zest
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 slices pickled ginger (or several slices of fresh ginger if you don’t have pickled)
- 11⁄2 cups sugar
- 11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- Select pears that are firm and on the small side. Peel them, cut them into quarters, and core them.
- Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, salt, vinegar, and mirin in a medium nonreactive saucepan off-heat; don’t worry that the sugar is not yet dissolved.
- Add the cut pears to the pan to coat them in the acidic brine.
- Meanwhile, fill a second medium saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to the simmering water, leaving behind as much of the brine as possible.
- Simmer the pears until they turn white and are just cooked through but still quite firm, about 6 minutes.
- The pears should be pierced easily with a fork, but you don’t want them to overcook and get mushy.
- Drain the pears and transfer them to 2 clean pint jars (I used a single quart jar), packing them tightly and tucking them under the curved “shoulders” of the jar.
- Bring the brine pot to a boil, uncovered, stirring to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes.
- Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat. Divide the ginger and lemon zest between the two jars.
- Pour the brine over the pears in the jars to cover completely (reserve the leftover brine).
- Tighten the lids on the jars immediately and let them rest on the countertop for 1 day before moving them to the refrigerator.
- The pears are ready to eat in 3 days, but taste even better after 5.
- They will keep their flavor for about a month in the refrigerator, but the color will begin to change after 2 weeks
This recipe is reprinted from Karen Solomon’s e-book, Asian Pickles: Japan, published by Ten Speed Press.