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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Putting Up Pears

Pear season is finally here in west-central Ohio and I, for one, am thrilled at the prospect.  There's nothing my family enjoys more than home-canned pears; served cold as a side dish or served warm over pound cake with a lovely brandy or vanilla sauce.  Am I making you hungry for pears yet? 

Finding pears is the hardest step, in my opinion.  If you have a mature pear tree available, count your blessings!  If not, you may have to do some hunting.  Sure, you can go to the grocery and buy pears that were picked 4 weeks ago and shipped across the country in a climate controlled box truck.  OR you can do a little leg work and find them locally.  Watch your neighborhood farm stands; this time of the year, you should be able to find pears for under a dollar a pound.  My personal favorite place for finding pears is Freecycle.  Last Thursday I posted that I was looking for pears for canning.  Last Friday I came home with 4-5 bushels of pears.  How's that for a find???

Once you've located your pears, ripening them is the next step.  Most of the pears I picked last Friday were on the greenish side; my choices were green pears or pears rotting on the tree.  I chose green.  To ripen them, I set up a 6 ft table in the basement  and spread out the pears with sheets of newspaper between the layers.  4 days later, a quarter of the pears are already ripe.  You can accomplish the same thing by placing clean, dry pears in brown paper bags or cardboard boxes for a few days.  The outcome is the same; the box/bags/newspapers trap gasses released by the pears and ripen them.  Check them daily, for bad spots or rotten pears and remove them immediately.  One bad pear can spoil them all!  You want pears that are *just* ripe, that yield only slightly to pressure and that are just beginning to smell sweet.  Overly ripe pears turn to mush in the canning process. 

To can your pears, peel, core and slice them, placing them in a lemon-water bath until you're ready to process.  This will keep the pears from turning brown due to oxidation.  Cook the pears in a simple syrup (3 cups sugar + 6 cups water)  for 5 minutes and then ladle into prepared jars.  Pour the hot syrup over the pears, cap them and process them in a water bath for 20 minutes.  You CAN pressure can pears, but I don't recommend it.  They tend to get mushy and turn colors.  Water-bathed pears stay crisp and brilliant white. 

That's all there is to it.  Pears are super simple to preserve.  If you're a novice canner, there are few foods easier to put up than pear slices in a simple syrup...and few things more delicious! You can find complete directions for canning pears in the Ball Blue Book or online at Pick Your Own.  So get out there and find some pears....you'll sure enjoy them this winter!!

In His Service,

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Shelly said...

This year was a great year for pears. Our tree was loaded so we canned pear slices and made pear butter. Mmmm! Our next journey will be apples. Our tree was not prolific and they ripened early, so we missed out. Luckily, in town they are selling bags of apples (at least 25#) for $6. So we'll be busy making apple butter and sauce. Love this time of year!

Andrea said...

That's awesome, Shelly---having mature fruit trees, that is! Our fruit trees are *just* beginning to bear fruit, but it will be years before there's enough to can. I canned apples this morning too...slices in syrup for quick desserts this winter. I love the weather time of the year, but I secretly dread what's just around the corner.

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Great post, Andrea. We also planted a pear tree but only got 4 this year. Hopefully it'll be more and more every year. BUT, I just happened to find a pear tree on a walk that was covered!! The pears weren't ripe yet so I thought I'd just watch them. Wouldn't you know it--I went by a week later and they were all GONE!! Someone else must have beat me to it! Ugh. I wish I'd picked them and let them ripen like you suggested. *sigh* Next year. I've been canning lots of apples, though. Regular sauce and Strawberry Applesauce, as well as freezing pie filling. Next is dried slices and cinnamon dried slices. (My family loves those!)

Andrea said...

I hear ya, Gen. I have two pear trees planted and have had a grand total of 1 pear. LOL Freecycle has been a real God-send for this home-canner.

Tell me about the cinnamon dried apple slices. They sound delish!

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Yes, I forgot to comment on your free pears! What a windfall! I've never thought about checking freecycle for something like that. GOod idea.

The cinnamon dried apple slices are from the Ball Blue Book. Peel, core and slice apples, pretreat in water/lemon juice, drain. Dip apples in mix of 2 c. sugar, 1 c. br. sugar, and 2 tsp cinnamon. Dry at 130 for 21 hours or until pliable. Turn apples halfway through drying time. These are a bit sweet for my taste, but my family really enjoys them!

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