Spiced pickled pears (v,gf)
6 hard pears (Conference or similar)
100g soft brown sugar
350ml cider vinegar
4 star anise
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp whole mixed peppercorns
4 whole cloves
6 juniper berries
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
Peel the pears but leave the stalks intact as they look prettier, then slice them into halves. Place all the rest of the ingredients in a heatproof casserole over a steady heat and bring to a simmering point, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar.
Carefully lower the pears into the liquid, lying them on their sides. Cover the casserole with a lid and transfer it to the oven for 30 minutes. Then take it out, turn the pears over and replace the casserole in the oven; the pears should need another 30 minutes to be soft, but check during cooking.
Store in a sterile airtight jar.
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