Vacola preserving: weekend workshop

‘There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Crunchy pears, slightly soft pears, and pears preserved in myriad ways, pears please me in ways many fruits can’t, giving me almost year round pleasure. Poor Ralphie never gave them half a chance.

For our workshop we gathered Goldrush pears, Granny Smith apples and quinces to turn into delicious vacola-preserved dessert treats, to enjoy warmed by the fire in winter, with yoghurt, custard, cream, or my favourite, ice cream. They’ll last well for up to a year, in theory I say, as in practice, like eligible young men or women, they’re never left on the shelf that long.

We lightly poached pears in organic red wine, a little sugar, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon, all spice, star anise and black pepper, before packing them into the vacola jars. The next step is placing the jars into the vacola preserver for the hot water sterilisation process. This takes 1 1/4 hours for the size 20 jars we used.

Our creations were Red Wine Spiced Poached Pears, Rosé Poached Quinces and Spiced Apples, and a little wild-fermented kimchi we did while waiting for the jars to finish. We leave vacola jar preserves for at least three weeks before eating, to really let the flavours infuse, meld, and develop. I’ve a mind to make more this week!

Our special thanks to Well Being Warren Blackwood for funding support, Manjimup Shire for the kitchen, Peta Walker for the arvo tea cupcakes, and Pauline and Ron George for helping clean up, giving us time for a lovely Sunday evening wind-down walk amongst the ripening Pink Ladies.

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