Original recipes from De honesta voluptate:
Sweet pears should be served as a first course, since they are juicy and tasty, and balanced between coolness and warmth, and ought to be eaten before the meal, like those small earliest pears which Pliny called "proud." It has been said that pears nourish the body better than other fruits... Pears are preserved in many ways as grapes.... (Milham, 137)
You can also preserve green grapes this way. Take unblemished grapes from the vine and cook down in river water to one-third. Put this together with fresh grapes in a well-sealed jar so that air cannot enter... in seasoning apples and pears we sometimes use condensed grape in place of condensed must. (Milham, 139, 141)
Modern recipe: Pears in Dark Grape Sauce
Remove the saucepan from heat and let the contents cool to room temperature. Remove the spice bag and discard it. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon to a storage or serving platter. If the syrup is too thin, place the pan back on the burner and boil the liquid until thicker and syrupy.
To serve, spoon syrup over pears and garnish with a small amount of fresh mint.
Per serving nutritional information:
246 Calories; 1g Fat (4% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 62g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 11mg Sodium
Notes on the recipe:
Pears were a winter fruit. In order to save some for the Spring season, they would have to be preserved in some way to keep them fresh. Platina suggests the procedure in the write-up on pears and then proceeds to detail it in the write-up on grapes. Grapes are cooked down for their juice. The fruit to be preserved, usually grapes, but in this case, pears, is submerged in the condensed grape juice and then sealed in airtight jars until they are used.
Changing or eliminating the sweetener:
The sugar in this recipe does not seem to overpower the pears, but the resulting product is a sweet and firm piece of fruit. You may, however, wish to reduce or eliminate the sugar if the pears are particularly ripe at the time of preparation or if you simply wish a less sweet product. The sweetness of the grape juice will directly affect how sweet your pears are. Be sure to taste the grape juice in advance to best judge how much sweetener will be needed, if any.
This recipe survives the home canning process well. Follow the instructions in any canning book that details the canning of fruit. To complete the recipe with juice only, reducing the sweetness of the overall product, look in the low-sugar or diabetic section of any good book on home canning.
Spices and recipe scaling:
As you make this recipe in larger quantities, you may find that the amount of spices overall can be reduced slightly to suit your tastes. Cloves have a particular strong flavor that some feasters find too much for their palate. Cooked in small batches, servings of no more than 16, the spices seem to work well, but in larger quantities (sometimes possible in institutional kitchens) we believe the amounts of the spices do not appear to multiply accordingly.
Additional notes on this recipe may be found at: The Coronation Feast of Dag IV & Elayna II
Milham, Mary Ella. Platina's On Right Pleasure and Good Health. University of North Carolina at Asheville: Pegasus Press, 1999. ISBN: 0866982086.
Gaylin Walli is a technical writer and editor for a multinational software company. She spends the vast majority of her personal time researching things because her friends (and people throughout the known world) torture her with comments like "Do you know anything about..."
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