In thumbing through my old cookbooks I sometimes feel like I’m reading someone else’s mail. These cookbooks were meant to be shared among community members, not with the internet at large. I’m comfortable sharing general details of a church or the surrounding community, but as a general rule I will avoid identifying individual church members or recipe authors by name. But there’s something lyrical about the name Betty’s Pickled Pears. It dances on the tongue in a way that just plain Pickled Pears doesn’t.
The titular Betty was a young homemaker when Brookhaven Methodist compiled their cookbook. Her other contribution is a version of the oddly everpresent Coca Cola Salad. Betty’s Pickled Pears is a recipe for a large quantity canning project, assuming a large crop of homegrown pears. The recipe specifically calls for “Pineapple Pears”, a popular backyard variety known for its hardiness but not generally available at grocery stores. The pineapple pear is firm and robust and, as you might expect, tastes like a pineapple but it’s not at all necessary to plant a tree to enjoy Betty’s pears. Any variety of unripened pear will do just fine. There’s enough sugar and spice in this recipe to mask any subtle flavors. As seems to be common with many pickled fruits, this recipe calls for red food coloring. This makes for a moderately festive presentation, but should be considered entirely optional.
You can serve Betty’s Pickled Pears as a ‘sauce’ with ham or pork loin, or on top of salad greens with a little bit of chevre or other mild cheese. Sliced thin, they makes an excellent accompaniment to a cheese board or charcuterie. I’ve scaled back the portions to keep things manageable.
- Peel pears and cut into quarters or spears. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes. (Pears should still be crisp) Drain water. Put pears back in the saucepan and set aside.
- In a separate saucepan, bring remaining ingredients to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent the sugar from burning. When mixture has boiled and sugar is completely dissolved, pour the mixture over the pears.
- Continue cooking over medium-low heat until pears are tender but not mushy. Place in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate. Will keep 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.