SPICY PEAR CHOW CHOW

In September, the local pears start getting ripe. I am not sure of the type of pear they are, I have always heard them referred to as a “sand pear”. Unfortunately, the past winter did not have enough chill to it to produce enough chill in my area to have a good crop, we were rewarded with two pears. Some years, there will be so many on the tree that the limbs will actually break. If you are successful at fighting the squirrels, birds, and racoons, you are rewarded with pounds of delicious ripe pears. This leads to another problem, what to do with them all before they go bad.

Luckily, my friend, coworker, and fellow Lab Rat, Bo, lives further North than I and had a bumper crop and shared some with me. One of the ways I like to preserve them to enjoy throughout the year is to make some chow – chow, or relish. It has that sort of tangy, savory - sweet flavor that goes well with just about anything. Add a few of your favorite hot peppers, I like habaneros and jalapenos, and it will really tickle your taste buds. Try it with peas, not the green kind, but the black - eyed ones, greens, cornbread, etc., or really anything that you want to add a little extra pizazz to.
The recipe is quite simple, here is what you will need:

Pears

Pears, Cubed

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers, Chopped

Onions

Onions, Chopped

Celery

Celery, Chopped

Garlic

Garlic, Chopped

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers, Chopped

You can use regular vinegar if you like but the apple cider vinegar gives it a better flavor.  Dixie Crystals is the preferred sugar in the Heart of Dixie.
Bourbon is not actually part of the recipe but a couple of cocktails are nice while preparing it all.  This is Old Forester, my favorite one.  I have had all kinds of bourbon, some of them very pricey and supposed to be premium, but none of them, to me, taste as good as Old Forester.
The ratio of ingredients is 50% pears, 30% onions, 20% bell peppers, give or take, I really don’t measure anything. I mostly use the “jar principle”, you know, “just about right”. The other two ingredients, celery and garlic, are just a small part. Too much of either will spoil the flavor profile. I only add a couple of handfuls of chopped celery and two or three cloves of chopped garlic in a large batch. The apple cider vinegar and sugar is a one to two ratio, one-part vinegar to two parts sugar, the actual amounts will vary according to the amount of other ingredients that you have. You want enough vinegar/ sugar (“syrup”) to be at two thirds the level of the other ingredients in the pot. As it all cooks down, the other ingredients will add their liquids to the pot and the syrup will eventually cover them.

Oh, I almost forgot, add a few of your favorite hot peppers to the pot if you want to make it spicy. I usually make it both ways as I share with friends and not all of them like spicy food. For this large batch I added six jalapenos and three habaneros.
Here is what it all looks like thrown in the pot:
Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes. While it is simmering, I usually sample the syrup to make sure that it is sweet enough or not too sweet. If it is too sweet add a little more apple cider vinegar; if it is to tangy or not sweet enough, add a little sugar. Also while it is simmering, I prepare may jars, lids, and other equipment by sterilizing them in boiling water.

When the pears start looking translucent around the edges, you are ready to start putting the mixture in jars. You want them to be slightly cooked, but not mushy, and I process mine in an open canner, so a little more cooking will occur there.

Ready to Can

Fill the jars with the mixture (I use mostly pint jars) to within a half inch of the top. The way I do it is I use a slotted spoon to add the solids so that I get a full jar and then top it off with the syrup. Wipe any liquid off the top and threads of the jar with a clean cloth then cap with a lid and ring. I did not get any pictures of this operation as it requires two hands and is sometimes messy, plus it was getting late and I needed to finish.

After you finish adding it to the jars, place the capped jars in the canner and bring to a boil, process for another 15 minutes. Remove them from the canner and allow to cool. You should start hearing the lids start to pop as they cool, indicating that you have a good seal.

Finished Product

This will keep for a long time in the pantry, I have had some that I have eaten that was a year old and it was as still as fresh as the day I canned it. If you have any questions, use the contact form and shoot me and email.

© 2017 HEART OF DIXIE BONSAI. All Rights Reserved. SAVE THE WORLD, PLANT A TREE.