Cranberry & Pear Sauce

This is very popular in Poland, especially in the wintertime, and is served with hot roasts or cold meats and smoked sausages.

I cannot find any reference to when and why these two fruits were put together but they do make a good combination.

It is more like a conserve or a salsa  –  it is not a pouring sauce.

Many years ago I got a recipe from my aunty in Białystok. However I did not get around to to making this until recently, mainly because the pears in my garden are ripe in September but fresh cranberries are not  in the shops in England until around December.

As I could not use my own pears and I  decided to make this with bought produce.

The following proportions are used,  2 parts cranberries to 1 part pears (once they are peeled & cored).

Hard pears, such as Conference pears are best and it is better if they are ripe as they provide sweetness.

I find that “bought” cranberry sauce is often much too sweet and sickly.

It is difficult to judge how much sugar to add, I have given the quatities I used, it is easier to add some later, hard to take any away!

Version 1

This will keep for at least a week in a fridge – I pack the sauce into oven sterilised jars.

Ingredients

600g Cranberries

300g Pears (once peeled and cored)

300g Granulated sugar

300ml of water

Method

Rinse the cranberries and drain and put them into a plastic bag, flatten the bag and place it into a freezer for 24 hours.

The next day, take the cranberries out of the bag and put them into a bowl and cover them with boiling water then leave them for 30 minutes and then strain them.

Peel and core the pears and then cut them into rough cubes.

Place the cranberries in a thick bottomed pan and add the pears, sugar and the water.

Bring to the boil, mixing often then simmer gently for around 30 minutes, still stirring often.

Pour the sauce into hot sterilised jars – leave them to cool thoroughly  before putting on the lids.

Version 2

This will also keep for at least a week in a fridge – I pack the sauce into oven sterilised jars – it has a “fresher ” taste than version 1.

Ingredients

600g Cranberries

300g Pears (once peeled and cored)

70 -100g Granulated sugar

Method

Peel and core the pears and then cut them into rough cubes.

Place the cranberries in a thick bottomed pan and add the pears and 70g of the sugar and stir well.

Cover with a lid and heat gently for around 5 minutes.

Remove the lid and give the mixture a stir, continue doing this for around 15 minutes, when you check and stir you can test for sweetness and add up to another 30g of sugar.

Pour the sauce into hot sterilised jars – leave them to cool thoroughly  before putting on the lids.

 

 

 

Spiced Pears

I have two pear trees in the garden and this year I have had the best crop of pears ever,  both in number and size of pear.

As I do not have a place to store the fruit that is cool and dry enough,  I was looking for recipes to use the pears.

I tried this popular recipe from my great Polish standby recipe book but I found it too acidic.  I adjusted the recipe and used less vinegar and more sugar and this I find to be much better.

Ingredients

1.5 kg of hard pears such as Conference

300ml of water

300ml of cider or white wine vinegar

500g of granulated sugar

8 cloves

8 grains of allspice

Piece of cinnamon bark

Method

Clean and sterilise 2 large glass jars.

Peel and core the pears and cut into large pieces.

Put the water, sugar and spices into a large pan and gently bring to the boil making sure the sugar is all dissolved.

Add the pears and bring back to the boil,  then gently simmer until the pears are soft and translucent.

Using a slotted spoon remove the pears and divide them between the jars.

To the liquid remaining in the pan add the vinegar and bring to the boil.

Leave this on a gently boil for around 5 minutes and then leave to cool.

Use a funnel to pour the liquid over the pears.

When the jars are cold put on the lids.

Store in a cool dry place or in a fridge.

Serve with hot roasts or cold meats, smoked sausages and cheeses.

The pears can be chopped into small pieces and used in various salads.

The spiced liquid can be used in salad dressings or in marinades for meat.

Dried Fruits at Christmas

In Polish households fruits that have been dried from the summer often feature as one of the 12 dishes at the evening meal at Wigilia – Christmas Eve.

The main fruits that were dried were: apples, pears & plums.

The dishes are easy to make but you need to start the process 2 or 3 days before hand.

I use hot black tea to reconstitute the fruits & often using Earl Grey Tea to give it a little twist but you can use just hot boiled water.

Prunes

A good deal depends on the quality of the prunes and Agen prunes from France are the best.  You need to find good plump large prunes which still have the stones in them. However these last two years I have had difficulties find these and have had to used stoned prunes.

Ingredients

500g prunes

1 litre of hot tea – Earl Grey is good

2 tablespoons of rum

Method

Place the prunes in a large bowl.

Make a jug of hot tea and leave to brew for about 4 minutes.

Pour the hot tea over the prunes, if using loose leaf tea, you need to strain it as you pour.

Make sure all the prunes are covered by adding more hot water.

Leave the prunes overnight to plump up.

 

Put the prunes and liquid (you might need to add some water) into a pan and simmer gently for about 15 minutes then leave to cool.

Add the rum when the prunes are cold.

Pears

Ingredients

500g dried pears ( they come as half a pear)

1 litre of hot tea – Earl Grey is good

Small piece of cinnamon stick

3-4 whole cloves or allspice seeds.

 

Method

Cut the pears in half.

Place the pears in a large bowl.

Make a jug of hot tea and leave to brew for about 4 minutes.

Pour the hot tea over the pears, if using loose leaf tea, you need to strain it as you pour.

Make sure all the pears are covered by adding more hot water.

Leave the pears overnight to plump up.

Put the pears and liquid (you might need to add some water) into a pan, add a small cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves or 3-4 whole allspice seeds and simmer gently for about 15 minutes 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .  Take care not to cook for too long – you do not want a “mush”!

Remove the spices then leave to cool.

 

Dried Fruit Salad

My mother used to buy mixed dried fruits to make this & I have bought this in the past from the dried fruit & nut stall on Leeds Kirkstall Market.

When I enquired about this – the stall holder said that they had not had this mixture for many years! She did tell me that the mixture had consisted of dried – apples, apricots, peaches, pears & plums.

Some people make the dried fruit salad for Wigila (Christmas Eve) using 12 fruits ( another reminder of  the 12 apostles.)  So – raisins, currants, sultanas, cranberries, cherries, figs and other dried berries would be used as well.

Ingredients

500g mixed dried fruits

1 litre of hot tea – Earl Grey is good

Small piece of cinnamon stick

3-4 whole cloves or allspice seeds.

 

Method

Cut the larger fruits in half.

Place the fruits in a large bowl.

Make a jug of hot tea and leave to brew for about 4 minutes.

Pour the hot tea over the fruits , if using loose leaf tea, you need to strain it as you pour.

Make sure all the fruits are covered by adding more hot water.

Leave the fruits overnight to plump up.

 

Put the fruits and liquid (you might need to add some water) into a pan, add a small cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves or 3-4 whole allspice seeds and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally .  Take care not to cook for too long – you do not want a “mush”!

Remove the spices  then leave to cool.

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 Note

When I make any of these at other times of the year, I often serve them with soured cream or plain yoghurt or a mixture of the two.

 

Pork & Pears

This is a new recipe for me – it is from the South West of Poland, the area called Śląsk – Silesia in English.

Pyrus communis is the European pear.

Pears originated in the Caucasus and then spread to Asia and Ancient Persia and from there to Europe.

Pears have been cultivated for over 4,000 years.

The Polish for pear is gruszka

Pears are more demanding than apples and so you will find that there are more pear orchards in Southern Poland where there is more sun and because of the fertile soil.

Conference is a a popular cultivated variety in England. It was cultivated by Thomas Francis Rivers and it won 1st prize in 1885 National British Pear Conference in London.

It is also popular and grown in Poland now where it is called Konferencja.

This is a good pear for this recipe as it need to be a hard pear that keeps its shape and does not disintegrate.

Version 1 Using Shoulder Pork

Ingredients

400g – 500g of shoulder pork – in slices.

4 -5 hard pears such as Conference

1 parsnip

1 carrot

1 onion

1 -2 tablespoons of plain flour.

300ml of vegetable or chicken stock (can be from powder or a cube)

4 -5 grains of  ziele angeliskie which is allspice

Salt

Sunflower oil for frying.

 

Allspice also called pimenta or Jamaican pepper is very popular in Polish cookery.

It is the dried unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, a tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America.

The name allspice was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

It used to be very popular in England and that is why in Poland it is called ziele angielskie which means English herb(Why herb rather than spice I do not know!) 

Until recently it seemed to have fallen out of favour in England though now it seems to be being used more and more.

In Poland it is used with meats as well as or instead of peppercorns and is used in cakes.

I have been able to obtain it a lot more readily in the past few years and am now using it a great deal especially in casseroles as I love the taste.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Peel & chop the parsnip and carrot into rough cubes.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Fry the all gently together and put them at the bottom of a the casserole dish.

Lightly dust the pork and fry gently in sunflower oil.

 

Add the pork on top of the vegetables.

Sprinkle with salt.

Pour in the stock & put on the lid.

Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour – then turn the oven down to GM3 – 160°C and cook for another 2 hours.

Peel the pears and cut then in half and remove core & pips.

Place the pears on top of the meat & cover with the lid.

Cook for around 20 – 30 minutes until the pears are tender.

You can make this in advance with just the vegetables and pork and then re-heat it at GM4 – 180°C – for around an hour and then add the pears.

Using Dried Pears

Dried pears are often used rather than fresh – drying fruit is a very popular method of fruit preservation in Poland & means that this recipe could be made in the winter when all the fresh fruit was no longer available.

Dried Pears are for sale in the fruit and nut stall In Kirkstall Market in Leeds.

You have to reconstitute the pears – this is best done overnight.

Place the pears in a dish and pour hot weak black tea over the pears and leave them or you can use just hot boiled water  – I think the pears with tea taste better.

Cook the meat as before and after you have added the re-constituted pears cook the dish for another 30 – 35 minutes.

Version 2 Using Pork Loin with dried pears

You have to reconstitute the pears – this is best done overnight.

Place the pears in a dish and pour hot weak black tea over the pears and leave them or you can use just hot boiled water  – I think the pears with tea taste better.

Fry some slices of pork loin on both sides in a mixture of oil and butter in a deep frying pan.

Add the reconstituted pears about 3 per piece of meat with some of the liquid.

Cover the pans with a tight fitting lid (good to have a glass one to see what is happening – as it is easy for this to burn because of the sugar in the pears & liquid) and simmer for 25 -30 minutes.

 

 

One of my books said these went very well with dumplings from Śląsk (Silesia in English) – these I will have to investigate for a later post next year.

 

 

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