A versatile pantry stand-by
Prepare autumn’s bounty of pears in calvados for an all-in-one bottle of boozy fruit that’s great for desserts, and a sweetly spiced fruit-infused brandy for drinking alongside or in cocktails. Read more about the wonders of preserving fruit in the first article of my new series on preservation techniques.
1kg williams pears, slightly under-ripe and without bruises
150g demerara sugar
10 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tsp whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Half fill a large bowl with cold water and squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Peel, quarter and core the pears, then place in the water to stop them going brown.
Put 1½ litres of water into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Drain the pears and slide them into sugared water, adding the cardamom, peppercorns and bay leaves too. Simmer gently until the pears are just tender to the point of a knife—how long this takes will depend on the ripeness of the pears. Check after 10 mins and then regularly.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the pears out of the pan and into the jar. Some of the spices will inevitably be lifted out as well. Pour the calvados over the pears.
Rapidly boil down the liquid in the pan to 225ml—it’ll take a while as there is a lot of water to evaporate, but as it does it creates a rich syrup. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature then add to the pear jar and stir gently. The pears must be below the liquid line—add more calvados if needed.
Seal and store somewhere cool and dark for 3 months. Shake occasionally and check that the pears remain submerged.
Recipe: Angela Clutton