In August, I found these cute mini pears at the Green Market. I think they are called pickle pears. What do you do with "pickle" pears? Pickle them, right? Instead, I remembered Yoko's post on homemade umeshu (plum wine), and decided to make homemade pear liqueur.
The last time I was at Mitsuwa, they had a pre-packaged homemade umeshu set (a jar, plums, white liqueur and rock sugar). Since I was taking a bus, I didn't want to have to carry it. We have a convenient Japanese grocery store Dainobu nearby my work, and I remembered them selling Kori sato (direct translation = ice cube sugar). I used to suck on them just like candy, and they are widely used when making homemade liqueur. They are simply sugar in rock form.
Typical jar for homemade liqueur is a glass with a plastic red jar. I went to The Container Store, and found a large glass jar, which worked perfectly. An air tight seal is the key to avoid any germs from growing inside (however, I bet the high alcohol contents will prevent this from going bad anyways).
Making this is very easy.
What you need:
- About 2lbs. of pickle pear
- 2 bags of rock sugar
- Magnum bottle of vodka (Don't buy the premium. Even if you have it, save it for regular drinks, and get the cheapy kind instead for this).
That's it. In Japan, you can buy white liquor (which is basically flavorless alcohol to use for making liqueurs), but you can totally substitute with vodka.
Wash pears, and get rid of the stems. I cut them in half for no particular reason, thinking it would give it a stronger flavor. Dry and dump the pears into the jar, add sugar, vodka, and keep in cool dark place for six months.
After six months, take the fruits out (I bet these will make a killer pear tart or cake). You can drink at this point, but I heard waiting a year makes a milder liqueur.
It's now mid-November, and this is how it looks. The amber color is pretty mouth-watering, isn't it?
As a teaser, I cut up some persimmons and added to the liqueur. Apparently this is how some of the most expensive kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto serves dessert in the fall. Unfortunately, $1.39 persimmons weren't ripe enough. Have you had unripen persimmons before? They were so shibui (the English language doesn't really have the word that describes persimmon's "shibui"-ness: not edible, too bitter, too tart, but not quite these words). You'll know when you encounter a shibui persimmon.
Anyhow, the liqueur itself is pretty good. Definitely on the sweet side due to rock sugar plus sweetness from the fruit.
*Yamahomo enjoys cooking and baking. He prefers staying in kitchen all weekend long rather than being outside.