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Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon
or any other sweet, firm pear (3-4 pears)
2-inch pieces of lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
or several slices of fresh ginger if you don't have pickled
⁄2 cups sugar
⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
white wine vinegar
Select pears that are firm and on the small side. Peel them, cut them into quarters, and core them.
Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, salt, vinegar, and mirin in a medium nonreactive saucepan off-heat; don’t worry that the sugar is not yet dissolved.
Add the cut pears to the pan to coat them in the acidic brine.
Meanwhile, fill a second medium saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to the simmering water, leaving behind as much of the brine as possible.
Simmer the pears until they turn white and are just cooked through but still quite firm, about 6 minutes.
The pears should be pierced easily with a fork, but you don’t want them to overcook and get mushy.
Drain the pears and transfer them to 2 clean pint jars (I used a single quart jar), packing them tightly and tucking them under the curved “shoulders” of the jar.
Bring the brine pot to a boil, uncovered, stirring to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes.
Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat. Divide the ginger and lemon zest between the two jars.
Pour the brine over the pears in the jars to cover completely (reserve the leftover brine).
Tighten the lids on the jars immediately and let them rest on the countertop for 1 day before moving them to the refrigerator.
The pears are ready to eat in 3 days, but taste even better after 5.
They will keep their flavor for about a month in the refrigerator, but the color will begin to change after 2 weeks.
This recipe is reprinted from Karen Solomon's e-book, Asian Pickles: Japan, published by Ten Speed Press.