Hey, wine is for more than just drinking. (Whoa.) For example, have you ever had a White Port and Pear Conserve? (Recipe at the bottom of this post.) Me neither! Fortunately, I am friends with, and live within walking distance from, Brook Hurst Stephens. You may know her from her charming and enthusiastic blog, Learn To Preserve; she’s also a Certified Master Food Preserver. And she was gracious enough to open her doors for taping an episode of my podcast, Wine Without Worry, dedicated to the topic of preserving with wine.
I knew Brook was a pro; see how she had all the ingredients laid out? And I was touched that she added a blood orange, my favorite fruit, into the citrus mix. With Brook ably in charge as the recipe guru, I had to do something to impress her. How about an easy wine-based cocktail? I love that Brook chose white Port for our canning exercise, as it is the main component in one of the most underrated refreshing drinks in the world. And you don’t have to be a mixologist to make it. Plus, no muddling.
Just fill a glass with ice, add a couple shots of white Port (the one we used had a touch of sweetness), top with club soda, and add a wedge of lemon or lime. This is how you make a drab Seattle April afternoon feel like July in the tropics.
Between sips, you’ll hear some of the cooking action come through on the podcast: chopping, slicing, and dicing. Which is totally appropriate considering Brook has put together an audio journey called “The Sounds of Preserving“. Have a listen:
Just as sights and smells can provoke and promote memories, so can sounds. The sound of uncorking a wine reminded me how I met Brook probably eight years ago while working at a wine shop; she was a sales representative for a local distributor and the shop was one of her accounts. We discuss how she got into the wine business, and venture further back in time to see how growing up in Wenatchee (“Apple Capital of the World“) nurtured her love for canning and preserving. Brook even owned a bar–which apparently had a fantastic neon sign–in Wenatchee for a spell.
I left Brook’s house with a cute jar of White Port and Pear Conserve, and a vow (preserved on the podcast) to volunteer for unlimited chopping and peeling duty as the pounds and pounds of produce roll in to Learn to Preserve World-Wide HQ. Have a listen to my pledge:
Go forth and make your own White Port and Pear Conserve. Great accompaniment to cheeses, porkchops, chicken, salmon, and so much more! The details:
1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup total fresh-squeezed orange juice/blood orange juice
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 T grated lemon zest
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground ginger
pinch of salt
3 lbs Bosc or Anjou pears peeled, cored, coarsely chopped (about 5 pears)
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/4 cup white Port
1 T chopped fresh thyme
Add the first 9 ingredients to a large pot, stir to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pears, cover, and lower the heat and boil gently for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 15 minutes to thicken. Stir in the almonds, white Port, and thyme.
You can refrigerate (covered, in a non-reactive bowl) your conserve for up to 2 weeks. But, seriously, it shouldn’t last that long due to its versatility and deliciousness. Freezing in a plastic storage bag is an option for longer-term storage. But again, resistance to eating your White Port and Pear Conserve is futile! For the canning curious, you can process the hot mixture in sterilized jars and cellar it in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. (Like wine! Well, except wine lasts longer.)
For information on hot processing and everything preserving:
Apples in Wenatchee photo courtesy SweeTango.