Sourdough Bagels

Many commercial operations make soft, fluffy bagels. You can do far better at home. Get sourdough recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
My first attempt at sourdough bagels followed our backcountry adventure last summer: it was a win for its poke bowl and huckleberry sourdough pancakes but a loss in the bagel department, when I had to resort to supermarket bakery “bagels.” Our county’s only bagel shop closed years ago, so the only local option was closer to squishy rolls than chewy, dense bagels. I started testing my own version as soon as we returned home.

Some research revealed the main problem: many commercial operations steam their bagels. It’s quick, cheap, and easy to automate for massive batches, but the bagels are soft and fluffy. (I’m not even sure the supermarket went this far; more likely, they took their hamburger bun dough and poked a hole in the center.) As with soft pretzels, bagels really want to be immersed in boiling water before baking. Boiling the dough lets its starches gel, forming a firm crust that surrounds a dense interior after baking. Without this step, you’ll end up with a texture and flavor closer to a bread roll. Although some bakers swear by a water bath spiked with honey and others go au naturel, I find a soda bath, similar to the one used for Sourdough Pretzel Bites, adds flavor and color.
Learn to make Sourdough Bagels and Bagel Breakfast Sandwich

Pears

Lower-sugar, fruit-forward spreads easily last a couple of weeks in the fridge once open. Get pear recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with many ways to preserve pears. They don’t keep as well in dry storage as apples, and I rarely used them when frozen, so they don’t yet have a home on my quick-save list. Dehydrating works well if you want them for backpacking or snacks. My mom always canned them in syrup when I was growing up, and when I have a bumper crop I’ll put up a few jars in brandy syrup or lightly sweetened pickle brine.

Mostly I save pears as preserves. The first time I made marmalade with ginger and pears, I followed a Ball recipe that used 1 part sugar to 2 parts fruit and found it to be overly sweet. I’ve since discovered that because the natural acidity of pears makes them safely shelf stable, the sugar primarily keeps the jam from molding once it’s open and sitting in the fridge. By melding Ball’s recipe with other lower-sugar versions, I came up with a fruit-forward marmalade that easily lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge once open, as well as a jam that pairs pears with tart cranberries.
Learn to make Pear–Ginger Marmalade and Pear–Cranberry Jam