Pears in sugar and spice syrup

On our Sunday market there is a vegetable stall run by four ladies and one man. They are a family, the youngest is in her fifties and the eldest, well, she could be well in her eighties.
They come to the market to sell produce of their own grounds in the area, and other assorted fruits and vegetables from wholesalers. This Sunday they had crates full of pears from their trees. They were smallish pears, no particular marketable brand (like Comice or William), and not expensive. I bought some for this recipe.

I am involved in the planning the arrival of Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), a December saint with a comparable role as Santa Claus, to the Dutch community in Paris. One of the traditions with Sinterklaas, for the adults, is making Bishop’s wine – a sort of gluhwein – of warm red wine with spices. This “vin chaud” also thrives in the Alsace where Saint Nicolas also remains a lively annual celebration for children.

That is why I chose a spice syrup. I wanted to call the recipe peats in a spicy syrup but that could be understood as meaning ‘hot’ but in this dish there are spices that are not hot.

Ingredients

  • One kilo of pears
  • A cinnamon stick
  • One star aniseed
  • Some dried lemon grass
  • One Tonga bean
  • Several cloves
  • 200 grammes of sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • Two one litre glass jars

Steps

  1. Put 2.5 litre of water in a pan, add the spices and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the sugar and stir for easy dilution. Add some lemon juice.
  3. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Put a large amount of water in a bowl and add a good helping of lemon juice. We will keep the pears in this bowl after peeling and between further operations and the lemon will prevent the pears from turning brown.
  5. Peel the pears and put the peeled pears immediately in the lemon water.
  6. Halve the pears and put them back in the water.
  7. One by one, take out a half pear, remove the core and pips and return to the lemon water.
  8. Preheat an oven to 175 °C.
  9. Cook water and rinse the glass jars.
  10. When the syrup si ready (tasting allowed), put the pear halves (or quarters if you used large pears) in the jars. Filter the syrup and pour over the pears. (If you want, you can keep the spices in the jars).
  11. Put the jars in an oven tray and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, testing with a fork whether the pears have become soft. I prefer the pears to keep some bite.

If you want to keep the pears for a long tile you would need to sterilize the jars by cooking them in boiling water for 15 minutes, then adding the lids and any plastic bands and cook a bit more before keeping them in the water for an hour or so. Remove the jars and other bids by using tongs or clean paper but not your hands or used gloves which could contain bacteria.


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