3 delicious ways to use up pears
Turn some of the healthiest fruits in your garden into something a little different.
The very first dessert I was allowed to make all by myself, around age 10, was a simple but scrumptious dish involving preserved pears. Mum made it with me the first couple of times, and then obviously felt that I had acquitted myself well enough to be left unsupervised. First, I had to strain off all the juice from the pears into a saucepan. The pears were then arranged into special dessert glasses and kept in the fridge. To the syrup in the saucepan, I added a knob of butter and two tablespoons of cornflour shaken up in a quarter of a cup of water. I then had to stand over the stove and stir until the syrup had thickened into a wonderfully tasty sauce. This then joined the pears in the fridge in a little jug, waiting for the final moment when it all got put together, just before pudding time.
All this usually took place when my parents were in the shed milking. When I think about it now, Mum must have been pretty happy with my abilities in the kitchen to let me cook alone.
Thirty to 40 big jars of pears always graced my mother's pantry shelves each season, along with all the fruit cousins. We were fans of stewed fruit with breakfast, and Mum always made pudding.
Stewed fruit was just the ticket after dinner, a ticket I thought everyone bought. But no, I embarrassed myself a couple of times staying with friends by sitting at the dinner table after everyone else had left, waiting for a pudding that never arrived.
Lately, I've moved away from sweet sugary pear desserts into pear chutneys. I can't decide which one I like best so maybe you, like me, will just have to make a bit of both.
JUST A WHIFF OF PRESERVED PEAR JUICE AND I CAN FEEL A PEAR DESSERT COMING ON
My mum Nancy (left) with her best friend Jean Swindells. Jean is now 94 and tries almost all the recipes I share in this column.