Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Canned Pears

Pears are in season here in Ontario so I spent some time canning them to enjoy later during the winter months.  Canning is not hard, but it does take some time.  It is time well spent, though, and you will thank yourself in February when you are feasting on the succulent fruits of the summer.  

- 10-12 lbs pears = 4 1L (1 quart) jars
- sugar
- water
- lemon juice

First, get your jars sterilized (or sterilizing) in boiling water or the dishwasher.  Since you will need to process the pears in boiling water, it makes sense to sterilize them first in your canning pot.  

Then, you need to make some syrup for the pears.  Light or medium syrups are perfect for pears.  Combine the sugar and water, bring to bubbling, then keep warm over low heat while you prepare the pears (i.e. don't let it boil down).
LIGHT = 2.25 cups sugar + 5.25 cups water
MEDIUM = 3.25 cups sugar + 5 cups water
Peel the pears and remove stem and blossom ends.  
Halve pears and remove seeds with a small spoon.  Place pears in a solution of 4 cups water + 1/4 cup lemon juice to keep from browning.  Bring the syrup to near bubbling over medium heat.
When syrup is hot (bot not boiling), place one layer of pears into the pot.  Reduce heat to medium-lo.  The idea here is to warm to pears for about 5 mins, not boil them.  You want the syrup to replace the air in the pears while still maintaining the fruit's integrity.  You will notice that the pears will slowly bubble when they first go into the syrup, like they are being deep fried.  Generally, when the bubbles slow down/stop, you are ready to can them.
 I like to use a funnel like you see above to transfer the fruit into the jars.  Working in batches, fill your sterilized jars with fruit, removing each batch of pears from the syrup with a slotted spoon.  Make sure there are not any air bubbles trapped in the fruit's cavities.
When you have four jars filled (or however many you can fit in your canning pot), fill each jar with syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Top with lids and rings adjusted finger tight.
 Your jars must be submerged in the boiling water for processing.  Cover with a lid and boil for 25 minutes.  Then, remove from the heat and remove the lid.  Let the jars stand in the hot water for 5 mins, then remove and let cool.  Done!