Friday, December 5, 2008

Windfall pears

There is a big, old pear tree on the allotments. It's seen many tenants come and go over the years and mostly, after a few skirmishes with harvesting them, trying to eat them and then adding them to the compost, the pears stay uneaten on the tree. They are an old fashioned culinary variety of pear, meaning that they just won't ripen however long you leave them. They have to be cooked.

I picked up a basket of windfall pears nearly two months ago and although they've been in the kitchen ever since, they are still pretty rigid. This year I've been using them to make chutney.

After my first ever go at making chutney, I quickly gave up using recipes. Apart from the science bit of needing to know the approximate quantities of sugar and vinegar to fruit, it seems a good way of using up whatever I had going spare at the time. I've made use of several gluts this way. This is my most recent effort:

Pear chutney with lemon and ginger

2 lb pears
1 lb onions
2 lemons, zest and juice
1/4 pint cider vinegar
1/2 lb soft dark brown sugar
A piece of ginger root - size depends on how much you like ginger
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
sea salt
small amount olive oil

Chop the onions and soften in a teeny bit of olive oil, chop and add the pears and cook gently while measuring the sugar and vinegar, grating the rind of both lemons, and squeezing them for the juice. Also shred the ginger and lightly crush the coriander seeds.

Add all these ingredients to the mixture in the pan and give it a good stir, grinding in a little sea salt. Cook for as long as it takes to thicken, I used a potato masher to help the consistency along a bit. try it for taste - you may need to add some more sugar. Mine has too much ginger, but I did use a huge piece of ginger root. J won't like this particular chutney, he doesn't like ginger at all and the ginger is a dominant flavour.
Decant into warmed jars and cover immediately. Mop excess chutney off jars, self and work surface. Take photos of little row of jars and add to blog. Regret excess ginger.

Happy gardening (and cooking for winter storage)