Thursday, September 23, 2010
Drowning in Pears
We have been drowning in bartlett pears all this month and I had said earlier I would share a bit about canning them so here it is. First I will talk about harvest time. We didn't think we would get very many pears due to the fact our tree had fire blight (probably because I didn't get the leaves cleaned up right away from last year). Fireblight is not a friend to your tree and does effect your fruit production. However our tree still produced a ton. We harvested over three days and since we didn't spray our trees for worms most of our pears were mostly baking pears. I sliced a lot of them and canned them in a light syrup, some of them I mashed and made something similar to applesauce but we will call it pear jelly, and I also made my first liquer.
First, pears straight off the tree are gross... they need to age a bit...harvest your pears before they are soft and stick them in the fridge for a day, then put them in a paper bag for about 3-4 days and your pears will be aged to perfection. (you can now put them back in the fridge till you are ready to use them)
To prepare you jars get them together and sterilize them either in your dishwasher or boiling water for 10 minutes. Put your little self-sealing lids in warm water to soften the rubbery part. The ring lid doesn't really matter as long as it still screws onto the jar well.
To make basic canned pears:
Take as many pears as you want and wash them, peel them, core them, you can cut them in halves or quarters.
I think I did about 4 cups for my first test batch but do as many as you feel like doing. Sprinkle the pears with the juice of two lemons to add acidity and keep them from browning.
To make the light syrup: lightly boil 6 cups of water and add 2 cups of sugar to the boiling water.
Now add the pears to the water for about 5 minutes (this is the hot pack method, some people just pour the liquid over the pears in the jars). After 5 minutes scoop out the pears and add them to your prepared jars then pour the liquid into each jar about a half inch from the top of the jar. then put your new lid on and seal the jar snugly but not too tight.
Now I processed the jars in a water bath which is basically a big pot with boiling water that I place the jars in. The water should cover the jar tops by one inch for about 20 minutes. I don't have a pressure canner and so I use this method. Processing times vary but altitude and jar sizes though so do a quick search before you take my word for it;)
To make what I call pear jelly: (basically because that's what i meant to make.)
Take as many pears as you want and wash them, peel them, core them, you can cut them in halves or quarters.I probably cut about 6 cups of pears. then I put them in a large pot, sprinkled them with about 2 TBS of lemon juice and simmered them for about 20 minutes.
When they are soft put them in a blender and blend into sauce. You could take what you have so far and can it like this.
I wanted to make jelly so I needed to add more sugar. So I put what was left back in the pot and I knew from the blender I had 4 cups of pear so I always add 3/4 sugar to fruit for jam. So I added 3 cups of sugar to the pot. Now bring up the heat to medium and stir (babysit it) till it starts to get thick and seem to stick to the spoon. Usually about 15 minutes. I test by placing a plate in the freezer and dripping the jam onto to it till it isn't runny on the plate.
When the jelly is no longer runny it is ready to can. Pour it into your prepared jars and seal it and process the same as before.
I don't think the finished product is actually pear jelly but it's darn tasty and I have been using it as jelly on my toast and it's spectacular.
To make pear liqueur: I haven't tasted this yet as it's still brewing but it smells amazing.
Drop the following in a wide mouth half gallon jar.
1/2 lb of pears sliced
1 1/2 cups of vodka
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 pinch of cloves
2 coriander seeds
Seal the jar and steep for three weeks. Strain and filter. Taste and adjust flavor by adding fruit or sugar syrup (below).
Steep another 3-4 weeks, strain. Ready to use! This yields about 1.5 pints of liqueur.
Make a syrup by adding 1 cup of sugar to 1/2 cup of boiling water. boil together for about 5 minutes till the sugar dissolves.It must be cool before adding it to the jar.
Giving Pears to friends: Another great way to use up your pears is to give them to friends. A friend of mine made me some pear baklava with the pears I gifted her and I recieved many fun things in trade for the pears I gifted my neighbors with. Anyway these are just a few ideas or how I have used my abundance I didn't expect this year!