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Pickled Seckel Pears

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.


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Reader Comments (7)

Thanks for posting this! I discovered Seckel pears for the first time this year and have been too busy eating them fresh to try baking with them or preserving them. They're such pretty little things and so sweet. I must try this recipe though - if for no other reason than it's really fun to say "pickled Seckel pears"!

Karen - I've never eaten them raw ~ I bet they're good on a salad! Hope you try these and enjoy them. Nancy

Nov 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren @ FickleFeast

I'm a cookbook-aholic as well! I found that once going gluten free, the amount of cookbooks I bought multiplied, because you'd buy one when you saw it, not really looking into what it is. Not that I regret that at all - the more recipes the better!

My mom, like yours, loves her Betty Crocker cookbook! And she uses family recipes - some don't even have instructions, just ingredients (in a scrambled order)!

These pears look great - I've never had seckel pears, but they sound wonderful!

Lauren - my sister and I have been trying to write down the recipes that my Mom has on scraps or in her head so that we can all make them. It's kind of fun. Nancy

Nov 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

cookbook-aholic! I love it! I'm the same. I've bought tons of cook books over the years, and I've gotten many as gifts, but sometimes the best recipes come from the 2 cookbooks my mom has and used while i was growing up!

Nov 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I'm not sure I own a single cookbook at this point, actually, and I don't eat a single meal at home, but these pears make me want to change my ways. I saw them on TasteSpotting and might just have to make them my desktop wallpaper so I can look at them all day.

Nov 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterplumpdumpling

What kind of vinegar do you use? white distilled? wine? cider?

Andrew - I used cider vinegar with this batch. You could probably use distilled white or wine but might want to start out with a little less and then taste the "sirup" to see if you're OK with the intensity. You can always add more if you want more bite. Also, wine vinegar would give it a pink tinge. Nancy

Nov 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I love pears so I know I would love this recipe, it looks so so delicious!

Nov 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeena

Where can I get Hempmilk and what are its health benefits?

Missy - I bought Tempte hemp milk at a local healthfood store. There are other brands, as well. I think you can probably get it at WholeFoods, too. I'm not an expert on hemp milk but do know it's rich in Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. -Nancy

Nov 10, 2009 | Unregistered
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