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Bottled Fruit: Belgian Pears recipe

Photo of pears growing on the pear tree in our garden

Our pear tree

I breezed onto the internet just now to see entries for Belgian Pears. I thought that they could be a traditional dessert. Well, in Belgium, they are not. Which is a shame, as anyone, from the Belgians to the Bengalese would love this dessert.

Forget any memory of dull bottled fruit. This wonderful concoction just happens to be preserved in a jar. We tend to include this for dinner parties when we’re feeling under pressure. Many jars of this superb non-alcoholic scrumptiousness are patiently sitting in our barn, waiting to be opened and enjoyed.

Our own pears have been rotten this year. Barely a handful from the entire tree. So I drove over to the farm shop at Westley to stock up for this recipe. They had several sorts of pears but none of their own. The lady in the shop explained that their pears had failed this year, due to lack of water. They had a choice, water the potatoes or the pears.

This is a pity as the Westley pears are the best that I’ve found to buy around here. Their potatoes are pretty good too. This is the first year that I’ve tried them and it’s well worth dropping in for a bag if you’re passing. They are just like home – growns.

The recipe for Belgian Pears was given to me by my generous friend Jo. It’s great if you have a glut of pears but even if we have a poor year, I buy pears for this recipe. Belgian Pears are a superb finale for a special meal. They taste very grown up with a real of depth of flavour. Friends find it hard to believe that they are not laced with some exotic liqueur.

We put the pears into le parfait jars that we seal in a bain marie (how do I seal Le Parfait jars? See tricks and tips below). We always make a few small jars for Christmas presents. Belgian Pears last a good year; we are still enjoying the massive batch that I made last October.

Belgian Pears recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Fiona Nevile
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 6 hours
Total time: 6 hours 10 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2 kilos of pears
  • 500g of white granulated sugar
  • 150 ml of white wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Wash and peel the pears. Leaving the stalk on.
  2. Melt the sugar in the vinegar and any pear juice in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.
  3. Add the pears and simmer gently with a lid tight fitting lid for three hours.
  4. Remove the lid and simmer for a further three hours with the lid off.
  5. Pot into sterilised jars and seal in a Bain Marie.
  6. Test the seals when cold before labelling and storing.
  7. N.B. You need 2 kilos of pears. 1 kilo doesn’t make enough juice if you are going to bottle them.
Notes

Tips and tricks:

How do I sterilise Le Parfait jars and rubber rings?

Le Parfait jars can be used over and over again, as long as they are washed and sterilised just before use. Use new rubber rings every time the jar is reused. (Rubber rings are available from good kitchen shops. Living in the country, I tend to buy up a few packs if I see them so as to have them to hand when we start bottling).

The sterilising method that we use is simple. Just before making the food, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c/140c for fan assisted. When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while.

I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.

How do I vacuum seal Le Parfait jars?
Fit a new rubber ring to your washed and sterilised Le Parfait jars, and fill to the level indicated on the jar, (this will be a line on the side of the jar).
Put the jars into a deep saucepan and put an old tea towel between them so that they can’t jiggle together and break.
Pour water to a level that generously covers the jars (at least 2 inches above the lids). Bring the water slowly to the boil. When the water boils turn off the heat and let the jars stand submerged until cool.

This method works well for us and we have never found a bad seal when we come to open the jars. It’s hard to prise the lids off if there is a vacuum seal. I usually give the lids a bit off a tug to check the seals. We sometimes use glass preserving jars with screw top lids (not old jam jars but a Kilner type of jar).

Some people think that these are safer to use as you can easily see whether you have a vacuum as there is a small section in the centre of the lid that is concave if you have a obtained a good seal. Use the same method as outlined above.

USE THE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE AT YOUR OWN RISK. ALL ‘CANNING’ /PRESERVING METHODS VARY SLIGHTLY FOR EACH TYPE OF JAR, SO TRY AND KEEP THE INSTRUCTIONS THAT COME WITH THE JARS IN A SAFE PLACE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE



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127 Comments

  1. Bibiana

    wow! I am so excited to see this recipe! I met someone tonight with five pears trees and he is too old to pick them so they are just falling on the ground. I am going to gift him some pears with your recipe. Looks brilliant! Thank you so much, simple tends to be better and you get that.

  2. Veronica

    Melinda, this might be too late, but assuming you did cook the pears for the advertised time, I’m surprised it still tasted vinegary. Maybe the pears didn’t give off enough juice.

    You might be able to improve it by straining off the juice and boiling it up to reduce a bit and/or drive off the vinegar flavour … maybe even add a bit more sugar. I’ve never had to do this though, so I’m not sure what went wrong.

  3. Melinda Boschi

    I’m not sure if I did something wrong. I followed the recipe, there was enough juice after simmering – hooray! However, comments imply that there will be almost no vinegar flavor, and I felt like there was still plenty of vinegar. Where did I go wrong?

  4. Veronica

    Melinda, Fiona just means any juice that came out of the pears when you were peeling them. There won’t be much, if any, as this recipe only really works with very hard pears. A lot more juice comes out while you are simmering them. They are truly delicious — I must make some more!

  5. Melinda Boschi

    Your recipe says ‘and any pear juice’…is this supposed to have more fluid than the 150 ml vinegar and sugar? I know it’s been a long time since this post, but I just found it and am interested in trying it! I hope you can still help me out!

  6. Corrine

    Thanks for the recipe. I made two batches yesterday…first batch as written to see what it turned out like. (I also didn’t get enough juice to cover the pears once bottled) and the second batch in a slow cooker with some extra vinegar in case this way also didn’t produce enough juice. With the slow cooker method I had to put a couple of tea towels on top of the lid to get the pears to simmer, but they cooked just fine. With the lid off, I need to baste the pears and turn them over occasionally. Once bottled they are only slightly lighter in colour than the first batch and the taste is the same….oh and I had enough juice to top up the first jars as well. I ran out of white wine vinegar and used red wine vinegar instead which seems to be fine, and when I used the slow cooker I melted the vinegar and sugar together in a saucepan first and left it to heat in the slow cooker while I peeled the pears. One batch produced two quart sized mason jars, and they look fantastic. Thanks again.

  7. Lizzi Thomp.Tremayne (@LizziTremayne)

    Cathy B or V? from New Zealand said she was going to try Nashi pears with this recipe. Didn’t see an update. Has anyone tried?
    thanks! Looks wonderful, the site looks great, first contact!
    thanks so much,
    Lizzi

  8. Hi.

    Just wanted to say that I made the bottle pears the other day and they are lovely. I don’t have a big enough pan to seal my kilner jars but I don’t think they will hang around for to long anyway. I am going to be making more this weekend and will also be trying some of your chutney recipe’s. This is our first year of growing our own veg. We also have a huge cooking apple tree and a conference pear tree.

    This is a great website!

    Thanks
    Michelle
    xx

  9. Hi Veronica,
    Thanks for your reply – I had decided to go with the cider vinegar anyway and, as the weather here is pretty horrid, i cooked the pears today – and have just bottled them – sweet but tasty syrup – hope the pears taste as good!! I found tarragon infused white wine, rose wine and red wine plus all the balsamics. I find it really strange that plain white wine vinegar is unobtainable, but as it seems to have worked out ok, I won’t bother looking for it next time… thanks again…
    Belinda

  10. Hi Belinda

    I’ve used cider vinegar for this — it was fine. It’s strangely difficult to get white (as opposed to red) wine vinegar in france. I sdo sometimes see tarragon-infused wine vinegar in the supermarket and have been known to use that with the pears 🙂 The end result really doesn’t taste of vinegar anyway.

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