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Spiced Pickled Pears

Delia Smith's delicious recipe for Spiced Pickled Pears, the perfect accompaniment to cheese and cold cuts on Christmas Day, or a lovely homemade gift.

From the book


Pears in a mild spicy pickle make a really good accompaniment to Christmas cold meats or, I’ve found, to strong blue cheeses. If you warm them through slightly, they can also accompany a roast duck or goose.Their lovely amber colour makes them look very appealing and a very good choice for a home-made Christmas gift. If you want to make more, simply double or treble the recipe, remembering that 1kg of pears fills a 1 litre jar.

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1kg Conference pears (the hardest and smallest you can find)
350g soft light brown sugar
275ml white wine vinegar
275ml cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into three pieces
½ lemon, cut into thin slices
½ tsp whole cloves
1 tsp juniper berries
1 dsp mixed pepper berries

Essential kit

You will need: a 1 litre preserving jar, sterilised.


Start off by putting all the ingredients except the pears in a large saucepan, then place it on a low heat, allowing it to come slowly to the boil. Give everything a whisk round from time to time to dissolve the sugar crystals.

While that’s happening peel the pears. They need to be pared very thinly (forgive the pun). This means using either a very sharp knife or, best of all, a really good potato peeler. Take off all the peel but leave the stalks and the base florets intact. As you peel each pear, plunge it into a bowl of cold water. Then after peeling them, check that the sugar has completely dissolved into the vinegar, drain the pears and add them to the saucepan.

Bring everything up to a gentle simmer and let the pears cook for about 10 minutes, then turn them over and simmer for another 10–20 minutes or until they look slightly transparent and feel tender when tested with a small skewer.

Using a draining spoon, transfer the pears and slices of lemon to the sterilised preserving jar (see Cook’s Note below). Now boil the syrup furiously for about 5 minutes, until it’s reduced to approximately 425ml, and pour in enough to fill the jar right up to its neck and completely cover the pears.

Then scoop out the spices and add them to the jar as well. Any leftover syrup can be discarded. Cover with a waxed disc and seal the jar, and when the contents are completely cold, wipe and label it and store it in a cool, dark place for about 1 month before using. The pears will keep well for 6 months.

Cook’s Note: to sterilise preserving jars, wash them in warm soapy water, rinse and dry, then pop them in a medium oven for 5 minutes.

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From the book: Delia’s Happy Christmas

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