End summer and welcome fall with spiced-pear preserves | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

End summer and welcome fall with spiced-pear preserves

“Pears are a beautiful fruit.”

We’re proudest of ourselves when it’s a cold morning in the dead of winter, and we find a jar of preserves that we were smart enough to make earlier in the year. It’s a true test of the lessons about the grasshopper and the ant. We are usually short-term-planning grasshoppers, but those moments when we can be the responsible and well-planned ant make well-made preserves even sweeter. 

Pears are a beautiful fruit, and they are best at the end of summer and early fall. During the rest of the year, pears are rarely a thing to write home about. So take the time and do yourself a favor for that snowy day when you inevitably forget to put out your parking chair. You’ll need a little pick-me-up when you finally get back in the house. Blankets are great, but some spiced-pear preserves are what really warm you up. 


  • 3 lbs. firm Bartlett pears
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup agave syrup
  • ½ cup Calvados brandy
  • the peel of half a lemon 
  • ⅓-½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground green cardamom


Peel, core and slice the pears into ¼-inch strips. Layer with sugar, agave and lemon peel in bowl; cover and let it sit overnight. The following day, pour the contents of the bowl into a large saucepan. Add the Calvados, cardamom and lemon juice, to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cover over medium-low heat, gently stirring occasionally. Cook for one-and-half hours until the liquid is a thick syrup and the pears are translucent. Remove from heat, and stir in the black pepper. Follow approved canning techniques to save the preserves for the winter. For reference and helpful tips on canning, visit Penn State Extension’s website at extension.psu.edu/food/preservation.

Tomasz Skowronski and Kate Lasky are the chefs and owners of Apetka, a Central and Eastern European cuisine-focused restaurant and bar in Bloomfield. www.aptekapgh.com