Dienstag, 20. November 2012

Pear Compote

This is nothing new, a very common type of compote, I prepare once in a while during autumn and winter times.

For my compote I used an old well known pear variety growing in my region called “Köstliche von Charneaux” (the “delicious” one from Charneaux). This pear should be eaten green while showning red cheeks. If the colour of the peel  has turned yellow it is overripe, and shows a mashy, floury, darkening flesh – no good for nothing.
Actually this pear is light green, it is a sunny day
It’s perfume is excellent - pear at is best, to be eaten raw, the flesh creamy white, only very small stone cells, juicy. Not the best for compote because it is done too fast. So it has to be cooked for a very short time only. The taste is very light/fragant, the texture turns buttery, creamy, but I hade no other in storage.

For the compote:

  1. Wash 6 aromtic pears
  2. Fill water in a bowl and add the juice of ½ lemon
  3. Peel a pear, half, remove the core and the attached strings (there are nasty strings running from the core to the bottom and top of the pears)
  4. Immediately soak the pear halves in the lemony water to prevent oxidation. Peel the next one and so on. 
  5. In a bigger pan heat up 200 ml white wine or sparkling wine (I used a small bottle sparkling wine), add 250 ml of the pear soaking water, 3 tablespoons sugar, ½ vanilla pod, 1 star anis (I use this whenever the pear has a very light too light flavor), 1 small cinnamon stick, a few squeezes lemon juice from the leftover lemon part and the pears. 
  6. Heat up until it comes to a rolling boil. Close the pot with a lid, turn of the heat and let rest 10 minutes, try to cool it down quickly (I put the pot outside). This is the method for quick cooking pears. Other pears may take some minutes simmering and don’t have to be treaten so delicately. 
  7. Remove pears with a slotted spoon. Reheat the cooking liquid and cook down to half.
Soaking while peeling

ready to be eaten

Serve as they are with a little cooking liquid

  • or sliced into wedges as addition  to blue cheese, 
  • or filled with creamy blue cheese, 
  • or serve topped with chocolate custard, chocolate sauce, 
  • or cut into chunks and mixed with yoghurt or white cheese 

and so on – there are many ways to use this compote.

There was a bit of a discussion on Hiroyuki’s blog concerning what tastes better Nashi or European pears and I would like to add a few thoughts.
No offends, I like Nashi, if I would not, I would never have planted a small Nashi tree in my garden.  But the main reason for planting a Nashi was to plant a slow growing and stay short tree, which provides a small amount of nice fruits. Why a small amount?  Nashi pears have no shelf life at all. You harvest them and  you have to eat them in a week. There is only a short period of time between nearly unripe (firm and cucumber taste) and overripe (sweet but darkening flesh with a floury texture). So Nashi has to be eaten raw just at their optimum. I tried several dishes with Nashi but they did not went right. Their texture allows no cooking or baking. Those procedures will destroy their good points: crispness, juiciness, elegant but light flavor. We have to eat lots of Nashi in a short time until we are really done with Nashi for a whole year.
For more economic reasons in terms of usage: If my garden would be any bigger,  I would rather have planted 2 pear trees. Old and nice varieties for many types of dishes as in: compotes, jams, juice making, baking, cooking, eating raw, for drying and such. And pears with a better shelf life (harvested unripe and store while continuing their ripening process in the basement during early winter).

There is no way that old and good pear varieties loose in terms of flavor to Nashi, sorry to say so. If somebody tells you the Nashi flavor is better than the pear flavor he/she had not eaten the really good pears yet.
But their texture is different. Many pears have melting flesh when ripe at their optimum. Crips pears are unripe (most of them). Many (old variety) pears have little stone cells in their flesh which gives a rather uncommon mouthfeeling for people not used to eat pears. 

Sadly enough most stores sell a small amount of varieties, most of them are boring, because they are raced for the looks, transportation issues and shelf life only - commercial use. This is the sad reality nowadays with most of the fruits and vegetables. But there are organic fruit farmers and farmers markets which provide the better ones. There are persons trying to prevent that old varieties, which have no commercial use, from getting extinct. So I am going to plant 4 trees in our community yard next year called Streuobstwiese (managed grassland with fruit trees). This is a heritage program of our community / city to safe the old varieties - whoever wants to plant may plant and has the patronage.

If you are looking at planting recommondations you will find lots and lots of varieties for one special region depending on soil, water, temperatures. Let alone for the Taunus-Region I found 23 varieties, this region is more sunny and warm. Our region is more cold and rainy and there are at least 12.  So pears go well in Germany while having a very  long tradition. See the list of varieties / cultivars sadly in German language only (german cultivars)


Sissi hat gesagt…

I also prepare pear compote every year. The one some people from my family love is made with prunes. A very good combination!

Fräulein Trude hat gesagt…

The compote I love the most is made from prunes, pears and elderberries. Sadly I did not manage to harvest wild grown elderberries this year. It is called Hollermus, can be cooked as preserve and it is the best with sweet yeast dumplings (Dampfnudeln).

Hiroyuki hat gesagt…

Thank you for your your thoughts about nashi vs. pears.

I basically agree with you. Nashi are not good when cooked, and should be eaten raw.

The shelf life of nashi depends on the variety. Shinko nashi (新興梨), for example,

(Sorry, japanes only)

will be in good condition for one month after harvest.

Sissi hat gesagt…

I like elderberry jelly a lot! And elderberry alcohol! It doesn't seem to be popular here or in France...