Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Putting Up Pear Preserves
The pear crop is coming on, and my friends let me come pick some from their heavily laden tree. I love picking fruit! Pears on a tree are all ready at the same time, this is not a progressive crop.
I made them all into preserves. My grandfather (Pawpaw) used to make these. I don't have his recipe but I think these are close.
Be sure to read up on specific canning methods and up-to-date instructions before doing this if you have never canned fruits before. The National Center for Home Food Preservation (linked from my sidebar) is a good start. Also be sure to call your mom or aunt or friend who cans and ask their advice/help/love/etc. :-)
Use unripe pears that have reached their size but are still very hard and green. Peel, core and slice the pears into water with salt or fruit fresh added so they won't turn brown. Drain the sliced pears completely in a colander - you don't want any liquid remaining.
Put the pears into a large cooking pot (a spaghetti pot is good) and cover with sugar - do not stir, leave the sugar piled on top.
For 20 cups of sliced pears, I used 10 cups of sugar: half as much sugar as you have pears. If you like a heavier syrup, you can increase the sugar to equal amounts as you have pears. But do NOT decrease the sugar amount, and do not use sugar substitutes.
Set aside in the refrigerator overnight. The sugar will draw out the juice during that time so that you don't have to add any liquid when cooking them.
The next day, set on the stove and slowly bring to a boil. Remove lid and continue boiling on low heat, stirring occasionally, for several hours until pears are translucent and golden. This could range from 3 to 5 hours, depending on how thick you want your syrup.
When done, put immediately into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Set aside, away from drafts, on a cup towel to cool slowly. The lids will "pop" as they seal. There is no nicer sound from a kitchen than the popping of sealing lids!
Write the date on the lids.
Store in the refrigerator, or you can process for 12 minutes in boiling water bath in order to make them safe to store in a cupboard for up to 2 years. See above link for the NCHFP for instructions on Water Bath Canning. You can use your spaghetti pot for processing if using half-pint or pint jars (they need to be covered with at least an inch of boiling water). But you will need a canning tongs for safely putting them in and removing them from the pot.
The syrup from these is heavenly on pancakes, and can be substituted for honey. The preserves are so good on a biscuit, and can be used to make tarts and such in the winter.