Pear and Vanilla Aigre-Doux

An amalgamation of sharp offset by honey, pears, and off-dry wine, its sweet-sour tang is perfect with rich blue cheeses.

mise-en-place aigre-doux

Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen Cookbook, p. 100 

Ingredient:

  • 1 3/4 cup white wine, preferably dry such as Gewürztraminer (I used Château Haut-Bergeron 2010, a sweet wine)
  • 1 3/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp. local honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1-2 vanilla bean pods, split in half, and scraped
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns in each pint jar
  • 7-8 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and quartered lengthwise

L1110367 Peppercorns aigre-doux pour-in

Direction:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the wine, vinegar, honey, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil.  Keep hot.
  2. Scald 4 pint jars in a large pot of simmering water fitted with a rack—you will use this pot to process the jars. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter.  Add ½ teaspoon peppercorns to each jar, then pack in the pears, using about 7-8 pieces per jar.  Meanwhile, soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seal.
  3. Transfer the liquid to a heat-proof pitcher.  Remove the vanilla bean halves and divide among the jars.  Pour the wine-honey liquid over the pears, leaving a ½ inch space from the rim of the jar.  Check the jars for air pockets, adding more liquid if necessary to fill in gaps.  Wipe the rims with a clean towel, seal with the lids, then screw on the bands until snug but not tight (for Ball or similar jars)
  4. Place the jars in the pot with the rack and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch.  Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for 15 minutes (start the timer when the water reaches a boil.)  Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes.  Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely.

L1110387

Tip:

One of the easiest-and best-ways to serve homemade preserves is a condiment with cheese.  Here the vanilla and pear complement the sweetness of the blue cheese, whilst wine and champagne vinegar stand up to the cheese’s signature tang.  To turn a jar of this aigre-doux into the ultimate cheese condiment, strain its liquid into a small pot, reduce it down to a syrup, and then stir back in the pears.  Bon Appétit!

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