This weekend I finally made a batch of Fiona's lovely Belgian pears. Apparently they have nothing to do with Belgium, in fact, but so what?
These pears are very slowly poached in nothing more than sugar, vinegar, and their own juices. The ingredients and cooking times are a little disconcerting -- vinegar? Six hours? But the recipe is absolutely right. (Well, unless your pears are really enormous, I would say that you can stop after a mere five hours.)
By the end they have turned a beautiful rosy color, the poaching liquid has developed a sophisticated, slightly boozy flavor without a hint of vinegar about it, and the whole house smells gorgeous.
The pears produce a lot of liquid -- this is actually enough to cover all the pears in there, but they kept bobbing to the surface. You can turn them to make sure they cook and color evenly, but be very gentle.
The pears shrink. Six pounds made enough to fill two .75 liter jars and one .5 liter jar, and left a cup of extra syrup, which I put up in its own jar. You wouldn't want to use regular Ball jars for this -- even the wide mouth is not wide enough to accommodate whole pears without injury. This kind of bail-wire jar, with rubber gasket, works better.
Then I processed them in my brand-new canning pot: 20 minutes in a boiling-water bath.