A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

Wardonys in syryp

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: Harleian MS. 279 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: Pears in wine and spices


.x. Wardonys in syryp.---Take wardonys, an caste on a potte, and boyle hem till þey ben tender; þan take hem vp and pare hem, an kytte hem in to pecys; take y-now of powder of canel, a good quantyte, an caste it on red wyne, an draw it þorw a straynour; caste sugre þer-to, an put it [in] an erþen pot, an let it boyle: an þanne caste þe perys þer-to, an let boyle to-gederys, an whan þey haue boyle a whyle, take pouder of gyngere an caste þer-to, an a lytil venegre, an a lytil safron; an loke þat it be poynaunt an dowcet.

- Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.


Pears in Syrup. Take pears, and place in a pot, and boil until tender; take out and pare, and cut into pieces; take a large quantity of cinnamon, and add it to red wine, and pass through a strainer; add sugar, and place in an earthenware pot, and bring to a boil: and add the pears and let boil, and after awhile add ginger and a little vinegar and saffron; and see that it be both sour and sweet.


  • 3 -4 pears, sliced
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 2 Tbs. vinegar
  • few threads saffron
Boil pears until they just become tender; drain well. In a separate pot, bring wine and cinnamon to a boil, stirring well. Let cool, then strain. Bring wine back to a boil, then add the sugar, ginger, saffron, and vinegar, stirring until spices are dissolved. Add pears, and allow to cook for several minutes until they soften slightly and change color. Remove from heat. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4. 

This is essentially poached pears in wine, with a little vinegar added for sharpness. The period receipt advises to cook the pears first, then pare and cut them, but I find cutting and paring cooked pears a bit difficult, and prefer to pare and slice them before boiling. "Wardonys" or "Wardens" were a type of English pear not common today - feel free to substitute any slightly hard, not-too-sweet variety. Be sure that the final product is both "poynaunt" (piquant with vinegar) and "dowcet" (sweet).

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Wardonys in syryp © 2000 James L. Matterer

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