|Wardonys in Syryp - Pears in Syrup|
Among one of the oldest cultivated fruits is the pear, and it is sad that today most of us are only aware of a few of the many varieties of pears that are available; Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, Comice, Asian and Seckle. Pears are thought to have originated in Asia over 4,000 years ago and were being actively cultivated in Europe approximately 1000 B.C. The Greeks had a special love of pears, and they were considered to be "gifts from the Gods" sacred to two goddesses, Hera and Aphrodite.
|Worcester Black Pears|
What of the Warden pear? Warden's present their own unique history. It is possible that the Warden pear suggested in the recipes below refers to the Worcestor Black Pear, which is first referenced in Bedfordshire's Warden Abbey in the 13th century. If this is true, then this is one of the oldest known pear cultivars. The pear itself is mahogany colored with russet patches and soft white or cream colored fruit. It is incredibly hard and gritty and must be cooked in order to make it edible. Picked in late October, early November they can keep until April. It was this incredibly long keeping time that perhaps made them a popular item on the medieval table.
x - Wardonys in syryp. Take wardonys, an caste on a potte, and boyle hem till they ben tender; than take hem vp and pare hem, an kytte hem in to pecys (Note: ? ='in two pieces.' ); take y-now of powder of canel, a good quantyte, an caste it on red wyne, an draw it thorw a straynour; caste sugre ther-to, an put it in an erthen pot, an let it boyle: an thanne caste the perys ther-to, an let boyle to-gederys, an whan they haue boyle a whyle, take pouder of gyngere an caste therto, an a lytil venegre, an a lytil safron; an loke that it be poynaunt an dowcet.
I believe that this recipe, like the perys in compost could be made up to two weeks prior to an event. However, the pears would continue to soak up the color of the wine they were cooked in, and that would eliminate the beauty of the white flesh of the pears as soon as you cut into them which I found to be one of the most striking features of the recipe.
The taste testers really enjoyed this recipe and I believe this dish will find its way regularly onto my table, especially when pears are in season.
Warduns in syruppe. Take wardens (pears), and pare hom clene, and scthe hom in red wyn with mulberryes, or saunders, tyl thai byn tendur, and then take hom up, and cut hom, and do hom in a pot; and do therto wyn crete, or vernage ||, or other gode swete -wyne, and blaunch pouder, and sugur, and pouder of gynger, and let hom boyle awhile, and then serve hit forth.
Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books (England, 1430)
Peris in Syrippe. Take Wardons, and cast hem in a faire potte, And boile hem til thei ben tendre; and take hem vppe, and pare hem in ij. or in iij. And take powder ofCanell, a good quantite, and cast hit in good red wyne, And cast sugur thereto, and put hit in an erthen potte, And lete boile; And then cast the peris thereto, And late hem boile togidre awhile; take powder of ginger, And a litell saffron to colloure hit with, And loke that hit be poynante/ And also Doucet/
Thomas Awkbarow's Recipes (MS Harley 5401) (England, 15th century)
To make a Syrop of Wardons. Recipe wardons & seth þam til þai be softe in clene water, or cast þam in a syve & rost þam. Pyl þam & shere þam in resonabyl byg pecis; þan take rede wyne or swete wyn or whyte wyne or gode ale, sugur & pressyd hony & bole it, & take powdyr of gynger & canell & cast it þerin boylyng, &annis in confyt; & when it is sodyn cast in þi wardons & serof it forth.