Pickled Pears

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

Pickled Asian Pears with LemonIMG_20131021_182537

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Select pears that are firm and on the small side. Peel them, cut them into quarters, and core them.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the cut pears to the pan to coat them in the acidic brine.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a second medium saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to the simmering water, leaving behind as much of the brine as possible.
  6. Simmer the pears until they turn white and are just cooked through but still quite firm, about 6 minutes.
  7. The pears should be pierced easily with a fork, but you don’t want them to overcook and get mushy.
  8. 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.
  9. Bring the brine pot to a boil, uncovered, stirring to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes.
  10. Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat. Divide the ginger and lemon zest between the two jars.
  11. Pour the brine over the pears in the jars to cover completely (reserve the leftover brine).
  12. Tighten the lids on the jars immediately and let them rest on the countertop for 1 day before moving them to the refrigerator.
  13. The pears are ready to eat in 3 days, but taste even better after 5.
  14. They will keep their flavor for about a month in the refrigerator, but the color will begin to change after 2 weeks

Notes

This recipe is reprinted from Karen Solomon’s e-book, Asian Pickles: Japan, published by Ten Speed Press.

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Pickle Me Sweet (and Spicy)

One of the projects that came from the Apple Annie’s visit was to make some home made pickles with the cucumbers I had picked.  I am a pickle fanatic.  I love dill pickles, sweet gherkins, garlic dills, kosher dills, bread and butter, spicy dills, pretty much if it’s a cucumber and it’s pickled I’m going to enjoy it.  Unfortunately, this love for all things pickle made it difficult to decide on my “first” pickle recipe.  After hunting Pinterest for a few days I decided on a sweet AND spicy refrigerator pickle.  You can find the original posting of the recipe here or you can see below with some of the changes that I made (some were for preference and others due to the amount of cucumbers I was staring with).

Sweet & Spicy Refrigerator Pickles IMG_20131015_193716

  • 4 1/2 pounds of pickling cucumbers, 1/8th inch slice
  • 4 1/2 tsp salt (divided)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs mustard seed
  • 1 1/2 Tbs celery seed
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, halved and smashed (I’m a garlic fanatic so I do have the tendency to up it in any recipe)
  • 3 jalapenos, sliced {I removed the ribs and seeds so they wouldn’t be TOO spicy but if you prefer more heat you can leave them in}
  1. Begin by running your jars, lids and rings through your dishwasher to sanitize them. Make sure they are very clean before moving on.
  2. In a large bowl add the cukes, 1 cup at a time, and lightly sprinkle each layer with 1/8 tsp of salt. Continue this layering until you have all of the cukes and have used 1 1/2 tsp of the salt.
  3. Add the onion and gently toss to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for one hour. This will draw the excess moisture out of the cukes so you will have a nice, crisp pickle. Drain of all liquid at the end of the hour.
  4. The brine: Combine the remaining ingredients, including the remaining salt, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil gently until the sugar dissolves. This only takes about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour over the cukes and let stand for 10 minutes. Divide among the jars and top with extra vinegar if you find that you need more liquid in the jars. Allow to cool and then top with the lid and ring.
  6. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator and wait one week before enjoying.  Since these aren’t processed, they will only keep fresh in the fridge for 6 weeks.
This filled about 8-9 half pint jars
IMG_20131015_193523
I kept a few jars of the pickles and distributed the rest of them due to the short shelf life and they have gotten nothing but rave reviews so far.  I think next time I may either add an additional jalapeño or just remove the seeds and no the veins to add a little more kick.  They are great plain but I used mine in tuna tonight and it was just awesome (made sure to throw in some of the pickled onions too!).  So for a first time pickle this was definitely a success and a recipe that I will repeat in the future I’m sure.  The original blog called them wickedly delicious and they were right.
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IMG_20131013_131808On  a non-pickle side note this weekend project apple butter was completed and between all 4 batches we ended up with a whopping 24 pints!  They are going to make great presents come Christmas time and there will also be the pleasure of always finding a new one in the pantry for a while 🙂