Pear & Vanilla Aigre-Doux

Jason has this theory that in order to convince people that he knows how to speak french, all that he has to do is omit most of the letters in a word, and say the rest while never fully closing his mouth. So, “bonjour” is “bohjuh” and “aigre-doux” (bitter-sweet) is pronounced “ahra duh.” This does not work, in case you thought it might. It just makes him look a little like he’s having a stroke. If you make this aigre-doux, you should totally pronounce it in a crazy way because you totally can. Because you made it.

This recipe came from a cookbook called The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant. I’ve never seen an aigre-doux (by that name) before this cookbook, and I’m really excited about this one. There’s also a butternut squash aigre-doux and a cranberry aigre-doux that I can’t wait to try.   The mixture of sweet and salty/spicy is really incredible, and I’m really excited to save it for winter.

Here’s the recipe:

from The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant; makes 4 pint jars or 8 half-pint jars 

1 1/3 cup white wine (the cookbook recommends a gewurtztraminer, which is what I used.)

1 3/4 cup champagne vinegar

3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon honey

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

2 vanilla beans, split and scraped, then cut into small pieces

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns in each pint jar

5 bosc pears, peeled and cut into chunks

In a large pot, combine the wine, champagne vinegar, honey, sugar, salt, vanilla beans and seeds. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly, then turn the heat to low to keep it hot.

In a boiling water canner, simmer 4 pint jars or 8 half-pint jars and their lids and bands. Put the peppercorns in each jar, then pack in the chunks of pear. Ladle the hot mixture over the pears. Leave about a half inch of headspace in each jar, wipe the edges with a clean towel, then place the lids on top and gently screw on the bands. Process them in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Let them cool completely before testing the seals.

To serve, put the aigre-doux into a small pot and heat it slowly, stirring constantly. Allow the juice to thicken up and the pears to soften. Then, serve it over a strong blue cheese with some crusty bread. It’s like fall on a plate!