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Skip Black Friday and have a jam session


Instead of braving the crowds of Black Friday, grab some pears and hit the kitchen to make a seasonal gift for your loved ones.

In this week’s Brand X Holiday Gift Guide, we sought the help of Kevin West, writer of  Saving the Season, who shared a recipe for preserved pears, peppercorns and lemon.

There's a printable label to customize your preserved present, too.

Recipe after the jump:

*This has not been tested by the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Preserved pears with peppercorns and lemon


1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
5 small bay leaves (we used California bay, which is considerably stronger than Turkish or Mediterranean bay; adjust accordingly)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 1/2 pounds (or more, see above) small, firm pears (we used slightly underripe Boscs)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 2-inch by 1-inch strips of lemon peel and additional thinner strips (approximately — I just whacked off a wide strip of lemon peel with my sharpest knife and then carefully scraped away all the white pith)
Additional thin strips of lemon peel
Yield: 2 pints

1. Make your syrup: Choose a small pot, so that the liquid will stand at least 2 inches deep in the bottom, then add water, vinegar, sugar and honey. Stir over moderate heat until it boils. Skim the foam that rises off the honey. Add  aromatic bay leaves, two large strips of lemon peel and peppercorns and return to a boil briefly. Then turn off heat.

2. Peel, quarter and carefully core the pears. As you work, place the fruit in a bowl with the lemon juice to prevent browning, and periodically turn the fruit over in the juice to coat it well.

3. Bring the syrup back to a boil, and introduce a single layer of pear slices to the hot liquid. (You’ll be working in several batches.) Return to a boil and cook for five minutes or more until the pears are softened but not mushy.

4. Carefully spoon the cooked pears into your prepared jars. Fit them in snugly, gently shaking jar to settle the slices, but don’t smash the soft fruit. You might also want to move them with a simple wooden kabob skewer. To each jar, add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf from the pot and a fresh strip of lemon peel. Try to place these at the wall of the jar for aesthetics. Don’t yet top up with syrup or seal.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have cooked and packed all pears. Now top up jars with hot syrup, leaving half an inch of head space. Run a thin implement (we used a bamboo skewer, which worked well, but you could also use a knife or a small spatula) around the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Skim any foam or bubbles off the top of the liquid, wipe rims clean and seal.

6. Process jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.

7. Head to Brand X to print your own custom labels to place on the jars.

Voila! You've got a gorgeous edible gift for under $4 a jar.

--Krista Simmons

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Miki. If there are any leftovers after gift giving, try them with some creme fraiche and biscotti. Perfect dessert, and as you said, not the least bit cloying.

Melissa's Test Kitchen put up the pears today. WOW! We had to refrain from sampling so we'd have some to actually can! The finished pears (we used our organic bosc) have a wonderful floral aroma from the honey, and the peppercorns and fresh bay leaves were just the offset to the sweetness. A touch of lemon peel and bay sprig with a dot or two of peppercorns in each jar really made them more than just 'pears' for gift giving. Keep in mind the pears will shrink a little during the bathing process.

Marlyn, they'll be on the Brand X site (thisisbrandx.com) tomorrow. Be sure to check back in!

Miki, please do let me know how the tasting goes. Enjoy your jam session!

The recipe sounds great. Where are the custom labels?

This sounds absolutely wonderful!
I'll have Chef Tom Fraker, Melissa's Kitchen prepare and do a tasting-can't wait, canning IS the RAGE!
I'll get back to you after the tasting.

Chef Miki


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