Don’t you just love cookbooks? Me? I’m a raging cookbook-aholic. There’s tons of them tucked here and there around the house filling a big double cabinet in the kitchen, part of a bookcase in the family room and another in my office. Right now the coffee table is loaded with cookbooks old and new—a few borrowed from my mother and two that were just added to the collection yesterday.
At one point I gave a whole bunch away (and sometimes I regret that) to make more space for new ones.
This recipe is from one of my Mom’s favorite cookbooks. She has two “go to” cookbooks—the red one and the green one. The red one is the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, a standard in every house before The Joy of Cooking took that spot. The green one is the standard even before Betty Crocker! Yes, it’s that old.
The book is appropriately titled The American Woman’s Cookbook, published by Garden City Publishing Company, Garden City, NY and edited by Ruth Berolzheimer of the Culinary Arts Institute. It was originally published in 1938—although my Mom has a ’50s version. And, at that time it was the cookbook given from an aunt or a sister to a young bride when she first set up housekeeping.
In the town where I grew up there’s a local orchard—Stoneyfield Orchards—that grew seckel pears, apples, peaches, and pears. And, wouldn’t you know, the green cookbook had a recipe for pickling the seckel pears.
When I was young my family was big into canning and so that’s what we did with these puppies. I know the canning rules have changed and this recipe doesn’t call for canning so I’m not recommending you do that unless you’re a master canner and understand the new rules. But, definitely make a small batch to serve with Sunday dinner, for a special evening, or for Thanksgiving. You can make these days in advance and keep them in the “sirup” in the fridge. (Yep, they spelled it “sirup”!)
Here’s the recipe exactly as it appears in the book. You’ll definitely have to scale it down—unless, of course, you really love them or have a big family.
Pickled Seckel Pears
7 pounds Seckel pears
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cloves
1 ounce ginger root
1 pint vinegar
1 pint water
3 1/2 pounds sugar
Pare pears leaving stems on. Tie spices in a bag and add to the vinegar water and sugar, and boil mixture 5 minutes. Add pears a few at a time and cook until tender and clear. Place pears in a jar, pour in sirup and seal. Makes about 5 pints.