preserving paradise

Heaven help us if there's ever a day in Australia when we can't buy freshly picked seasonal fruit from our favourite grower and have to substitute with imported canned fruit.  Why are our supermarkets still laden with cheap American citrus while our growers can't sell what they've produced locally for a fair price?  All fruit, all year round, regardless of season, source or price just doesn't make sense to me. What do you think?  

There's an apple grower from Stanthorpe who sells at the Palm Beach Farmers Market on Saturdays. Think I've mentioned him once before. When I was baking my Mum's Apple Strudel.

For the past few weeks he has had the most amazing little pears I've ever seen. He calls them Paradise Pears. They've finished now :-(  And there's only three trees at his farm to pluck from. So if anyone happens to know another paradise pear grower, please let us know. For these are truly a petite treat from nature. Also known as Faccia Bella Pera - beautiful faced pears in italian.

I wanted to buy the lot - by the case load. The cutest things I've ever laid eyes on.

In case you haven't come across them yet, this is how tiny they are, next to a regular sized pear

Those that know me know my fetish for jugs (ceramic type) and pears.  I had no other choice but to share faccia bella here on the page and leave plenty behind at the markets for the enjoyment of others. 

They taste more like a Nashi than a Pear. Had great intentions of poaching & preserving a large number but just couldn't stop eating them. Ending up with too few to pack my preserving jar nice & tight. The reason you see them starting to float in the pic below. Oopps. Not a desired result. Poke a knife down to pop your little air bubbles before sealing. And you'll want to pack em in tight and leave just a little headspace up top.  

POACHED PEARS    (or Peaches, Plums or Apricots) - to preserve or eat straight away

Bring Summer stonefruit to your table in the middle of Winter. Lovely served with a smidge of Raspberry Coulis or chantilly cream.  Aim to have at least one row of poaced summer fruits in your pantry for later and for old times sake. Many cooks like poaching in balsamic vinegar or earl grey tea these days. Vanilla is still my simple preference.

So easy, prep time 5 mins, cooking time 10 mins. Serves 6-8

Ingredients

8-10 large pears or other summer stone fruit in season (18-20 tiny pears if you are lucky enough to find Paradise)

1 ½ cups white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 whole star anise

1 vanilla pod

Wash your stone fruit well first. You can leave whole or halve them, whichever you prefer. Obviously little pears are too cute to cut up.  Heat the sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean & star anise in a large pot with 3 cups of cold water. Don't stop stirring until the sugar is well dissolved. After adding the fruits, cook on very low heat until tender. Bigger whole fruits may take up to 20 minutes cooking time. Remove from heat.

While still hot, spoon the fruits carefully into your sterilised Preserving Jar/s. Pour in the very hot sugar syrup till topped right up, just leaving a little headspace.  Run a knife around the inside edge of your jar to pop any air bubbles, before sealing tight with screw top lids.  Will keep for several months (and years) if stored in a cool, dark place and vacuum sealed. ie lid sucked inward when you sealed tightly. Living in humid Queensland, we often keep them in the fridge and enjoy within a matter of months. Great with vanilla bean ice-cream or yoghurt too.