Thursday, March 25, 2010

Island News and pears in red wine with Tassie pepper-berries

Occasionally something just works perfectly. Usually rather sadly this is not my attempt to buy the right multi-million dollar lottery ticket. This one is more likely to just cost me money... I've mentioned Tasmanian Native Pepperberries before. I had come across a recipe that had black peppercorns with pears preserved in wine and ea de vie. So, as I am rather short of spices still (had to leave them behind, and are slowly accumulating rather than bulk buying) I decided to try pears in red wine with these. Do it if you can.

For those interested I used 5 very green pears - 600 grams, roughly 120 grams of sugar (adjust to the tartness of your red wine) 300 ml of revolting red box wine (Stanley-never-to-be-bought-again-even-for-boiling-tongue-in in this case - tannic, nasty), a half a tsp of ginger and about 15 pepperberries. The pears I peeled and quartered - (you could do them whole, but your waiting to use time will go up) and packed into clean sterilised preserving jars. Bring the wine and sugar and spice to the boil, taste (should be like slightly tart gluwein) and add sugar if needed (start with a bit less sugar if the wine is gentler) and fill jars to cover fruit. I then processed the bottles in a waterbath for an hour - which may be a bit long but the pears were very green and still were a nice eating texture.

We ate the first bottle after a week, and the colour had drawn through them, leaving them a deep rosy pink rather than the purple-bloody red of the wine. The pepperberries (and ginger) had given them (and the sauce) a bite and the wonderful amalgam of complex spicy flavours. We had them with ginger ice-cream, and it was one of those desserts where you take a spoonful and just hold in your mouth (some of us quivered a bit).

Today we went and bought some more jars and pears (we have to use the wine. It's dangerous to even have it in the cupboard)

This morning Barbs and I put in our first little bit of volunteering for 'community service' - helping put the Island News to bed(Essential fortnightly local paper, with everthing in it from local news, times for the tip, and seasonal information (like what plants and animals you see in March.)). It's still collated by hand, 34 pages this issue, and B and I were the newbies on the production line. I was stiff afterwards, and I am deathly slow compared to the old hands. It's serious business, with a bit of stirring from Peter, but everyone works at like the fish-shoal will move off any minute. All done in an hour and a half. It has a circulation of IIRC 540-ish which on an island with the population of Flinders (somewhere between 700-900 depending on who you believe) approaches the miraculous. Put together by volunteers and for sale at the princely price of 80 cents its something I bet you wouldn't see many other places. It's been running for 55 years - not one of these newfangled community papers - this is the real thing. Isolation does some wonders for community cohesion sometimes. And the proof reading and editing would put the products of a few multi-million dollar publishing houses to shame. Yes, actually I was pleased to be involved.


  1. First chicken drawing and now pear quartering. Is rack of lamb to be next? Where will it all end!

  2. No, No, we have to get the hanging right first!

  3. Speaking of hanging, I have some parsley I need to hang up to dry. Seeing as the two of your are so knowledgeable of these matters, where would you recommend?

  4. on top of the Osso busco :-). Never dried parsley - I would think up near the eaves would work best.