An amalgamation of sharp offset by honey, pears, and off-dry wine, its sweet-sour tang is perfect with rich blue cheeses.
Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen Cookbook, p. 100
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
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!