Friday, October 1, 2010

Canning Pears

Can you tell what this is? Look right in the middle of the picture ~



See? It is a pear tree and it's loaded with beautiful pears! This tree is on our neighbor's property and they very kindly allowed us to pick some to use.



I am going to can them. I have about 20 pounds of pears soaking in clean water in the kitchen sink:



Here is a plastic dish pan. I put 6 quarts of water and 1.5 cups of bottled lemon juice in it. As I cut up the pears, I will put the pieces into that lemon water so they won't oxidize and get ugly.



I have also prepared the light syrup for the jars. Here is 5.75 cups of sugar in 15.5 cups of water. The exact proportions are not critical, but this is what I did. Look in your canning book for more information. This was enough to do 8 quarts.



I have never canned pears before, so had to work out my method, and I wanted to work it out in such a way that it would be as safe as possible for you, Gentle Reader. After washing the pears, cut off a little bit of the end where the stem is:



This will make it much easier for you to hold while you are peeling it with a vegetable peeler, and you'll be less likely to hurt yourself with the peeler too:



So, peel all the peeling off of your pears and them cut it in half like you see me doing in this picture. Please note that I have my fingers well up and out of the way of the knife and the hand actually holding the knife is safely back from the blade. The reason for all of this caution is that it is best to can pears when they are still rather crisp and hard ~ just beginning to ripen. If I were to wait until they were fully ripe, since it is from an un-sprayed tree, the little bugs would ruin many them before I got a chance to use them. I can just cut out any little "bad" bits and proceed. So, since they are crisp and hard, it is much easier to cut yourself, so be careful!



Here is one cut in half:



Next, they need to have the cores removed and I will show you the way I do it and then a super-safe way to do it in case you are not real handy with a sharp paring knife. Here is how I do it. Notice the placement of my hands to help prevent the knife from piercing the pear half and going into my hand: I am not even pushing it into the pear. I am making it go around in a little circle to scoop out the core:


Now, here is a safer method, but I find it to be more difficult. You can use a "melon baller" to do it if you wish:



In the stem end of the pear, even after the stem is removed, most of them have a tough strip going down into the core. That needs to be removed as well. It is easiest to do if you cut the pear into quarters, although you can process them in halves. I wanted to do quarters because I think maybe I can fit more fruit into each jar this way:



Here they are all prepared and in the lemon water bath:



Next, drained in a colander:


Prepare your jars, heat the syrup to just below simmering and heat the lids to just below simmering also. When you see the bubbles on the bottom of the pan, it is hot enough:



Put pear pieces into the hot syrup ~ just enough to make 1 layer at a time and heat them for 5 minutes:



Fill the jars with pears and cover with the hot syrup to within 1 inch of the top of the jars:



See?



As you fill them, place them into your canner. I am using a steam canner, but a water bath canner will be very good also:



Keep the heat on low under the canner until you have all the jars in:




Now, put on the lid, bring it to a boil and process for 25 minutes in quarts, or 20 minutes if you are using pint jars. When the time is up, carefully remove the jars to a draft-free location to cool. Do not set them onto a cold surface. Set them on a towel or some newspaper or something so they won't suddenly crack. Here they are after cooling:




And here is what went to the compost!



These will be a very welcome addition to our winter meals. :)

15 comments:

  1. Those are lovely. I wish I could eat a one fresh off of the tree.

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  2. I wish I could come and help!

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  3. So beautiful. I was able to can several jars last year. I just love the way they look.

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  4. Question, :) How did this process take? I would love to do some canning this year but my husband complain that I spend to much time in the kitchen already.

    Thanks for the explanation it looks very easy and doable. And I like pears a lot.

    Mely

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  5. It actually took me 3.5 hours to prepare the pears for canning, but the canning itself went very quickly. I love canning, and I think the product from our garden and my kitchen is far superior to most things I could buy in a store. I can't imagine spending "too much" time in the kitchen! I nearly live there! :)

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  6. My sister and I just did pears last weekend! We made pear sauce as well. Super tasty. We used an apple slicer to cut our pears. We did about 35 lbs worth in under an hour that way (she keeps her peels on). It worked great!

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  7. Wonderful! Does she leave the peels on in the sauce itself? That would be great. I've tried just making pear sauce, and it's always very watery. Just yesterday I cooked all the pears and ran them through the Foley Food Mill and am cooking the sauce down into pear butter in my Crockpot right now. It smells wonderful.

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  8. Does leaving the peels on change the acidity? I would like to do pear sauce, peels on, no sugar added with water bath canning but am not sure if it is safe.

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  9. Oh, I'm sure that would not make the pear sauce canning unsafe. I assume you would strain the peelings out after cooking? I don't think the peels would be a good addition to the final product. The main thing, though, is to be sure and core them BEFORE you cook them.

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  10. Thanks so much for your quick response. I was planning to leave them in the final product. I recently made some baby food pear sauce that way (stored frozen) and it had a nice texture. I steamed the pears and then pureed them in the food processor. The pears were cored but the skins still on. The baby (and we) liked it. There is a lot of nutrition in the skin of the fruit.

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  11. That's good to know! So if I just cored them, I would not have to put them through a food mill. Interesting. I have a friend that lets her pears ripen fully and then blanches them (like peaches or tomatoes) and then slips off the skins. I could not do that with mine, as they came from an un-sprayed tree and they would have gotten too buggy.

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  12. Yes, we use unsprayed fruit as well so that we can eat the peels. You might want to try a small batch first to make sure you like the consistency with peels. It may not be for everyone. Thank you so much for the helpful advice!

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