In the spring, I made some strawberry jam, which is nearly gone. Now that it’s fall, and pears have ripened, I’ve started making my go-to winter preserve: pear-ginger-walnut conserve. This stuff is incredibly good. I made several batches last year and ate it on biscuits, English muffins, bread, and with cheese. Oh, it’s good with cheese.
I start with really ripe pears that have turned yellow and smell like ambrosia. This means I have to buy them and then wait, because they’re very rarely ripe and unbruised in a store or at the farm market. You need about five for this recipe. Dice them up and throw them in a pan with two cups of granulated sugar and the zest and juice of one whole lemon.
Chop ¾ cup of walnuts and 1 Tablespoon of grated peeled fresh ginger. Let the pot of pears and sugar come of a boil and add half a cup of red wine. Cook until the pears are soft and you can crush them with the back of a spoon. This takes around 20 minutes. At that point, add the walnuts and ginger and cook 5 more minutes or so.
While the pears are cooking get your boiling water bath ready. I use a lobster cooker, which is large enough to cover a quart jar, but small enough to disappear into a closet. Once the water boils, sterilize your jars.
At the same time, heat up the lids.
Once the jars are sterilized, you can ladle the conserve in, cover the jars with lids and screw the bands on. Lower the jars into the boiling water for 10 minutes. When you take them out, listen for the little pinging noise that signals they’ve sealed. I like to let the conserve sit for a week or so for the ginger to permeate it. It doesn’t last long after that.