Back in the autumn I was given quite a few kilos of pears, from a tree no one else was harvesting. I hate the thought of all those other pears rotting on the ground and I was determined to put mine to good use. If you’ve got a few pears, of course you can just eat them as they are, but when you’ve got a few bags of pears you need some more creative solutions…
- Pear bread: It sounds simple, or even a bit odd, but this recipe will win over any skeptics! It’s nicely spiced like carrot or pumpkin bread but the pears make it extra-moist and a bit sweet. You’ll find yourself making excuses to eat some at any and all times of the day and you’ll make some life-long friends if you give a loaf as a gift.
- Upside-down pear cake: If you’ve never made an upside-down cake, this is a great place to start. The fan shape made by the pears is easy to do but looks quite impressive – like a tarte tatin but without the effort of caramelising the fruit or the guilt of all that puff pastry! A simple dish that deserves a place at your next dinner party.
- Poached pears: After watching countless ‘Come Dine with Me’ hosts poaching pears for dessert, I had to give it a go. It is really simple and there are infinite variations to try – this post from David Lebovitz gives loads of top tips and suggestions to get you going.
- Latkes with pear sauce: Traditionally, these Jewish potato pancakes are served with applesauce and/or sour cream, but I’ve substituted half or all the stewed apples for pears and had equally delicious results!
- Preserves: Pear butter is one handy preserve to make with gluts of pears. It will keep well so you can put it aside for use as a filling for cakes or even as a sauce like in the recipe above… Or check out my recipe for pear and chilli chutney below.
Pear and chilli chutney
Adapted from Michelle’s Garden, makes about 6 jars
All measurements are approximate, but don’t worry, chutney can handle it. Feel free to amend according to your own tastes and cupboard contents…
- 2kg pears, peeled and chopped
- 120g (about one large) red pepper, diced
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 7 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 6 small chillis, finely sliced
- 300g honey or sugar
- 250 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 100g raisins
- 3 tsp each of: mixed spice, chilli flakes, cumin
Combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat in the widest pan you have. You want a shallow layer of chutney so avoid using a deep pot and, if necessary, cook the chutney in batches (this will prevent long cooking times which can damage the final texture).
The chutney is ready if you can run a wooden spoon through it and the spoon’s path remains visible for a few seconds, without liquid flowing back in. Spoon into hot, sterilised jars* and store for at least 6 weeks before eating to allow the flavours to mature.
*I sterilise my jars by first washing in warm soapy water (a good soak should also make it easier to remove any labels, the back of a bread knife is a good tool for scraping off any remaining bits of glue). Then I boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes. I then place the jars in a 150C oven for at least 20 minutes and until they are dry. Make sure to fill and seal while they are still warm.
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