Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pear Canning for the Rest of Us


So many pears.  I'm not kidding when I say we've had thousands of pears on the trees and there are still plenty left for the picking.  I said the other day that we have fourteen trees.  We don't.  We have eleven.  I don't even know how many trees are in our yard.  Anyway, we've had several families over to take totes and we've given away bags and bags full.  The boys even tried to sell some at the road but apparently roadside pears are not really a thing and there wasn't much interest.  As of today I have canned 43 quarts of sliced pears and 14 quarts of sauce.  The sliced pears will be used for lunches and I plan to use much of the sauce as an oil substitute when baking.  I can't even tell you what a blessing that is.  That will provide us with a source of fruit for most, if not all, of the winter.  I'm sure there will be times of being sick to death of pears but what a relief for our grocery budget to not have to buy so much fruit all winter!  God is so so good.  It's hard and tedious work but it is so worth it to be able to do this whole one income thing.  God provides.  

Below are some notes on this year's canning mostly for my own future reference but perhaps it'll help someone else out as well...

{pretty}


Some shadow action for Cari


I'm pretty sure a vintage apron from Ebay is a necessary part of the canning experience.  Also helpful is a passel of boys who can pick the pears for you.


I did EVERYTHING with skins on this year!  I was nervous but opting not to peel them cut about half the time off the whole process (it takes forever) and I figured it was worth a shot.  I'm hoping the skins which are a little tough will soften while they sit but even if not, they're still edible and the kids likely won't care.  It does add a gritty texture to the sauce which I chose to puree with the immersion blender but it's not bothersome enough to merit spending hours upon hours of time I currently don't have peeling, you know?  Doing it this way I was able to can probably double what I would have had I chosen to peel them all.  Besides, skins on has to be healthier, right?

When it comes to prepping the pears so many sources tell you to use some lemon juice in the water to cut down on browning.  You know what?  The first batch I did with the juice came out browner than the ones I just did in fresh cold water.  So there.  I think the acid in the juice also softened the pears too much.  Leave out the lemon juice and just prep one batch at a time and they'll be fine.  While that batch is cooking, you can start the next one.  If the toddler lets you.  

{happy}


The boys got a kick out of making flowers using the slicer.  When the skins are left on, they stay together and just need to be pulled apart before putting them in the cold water bath.  All the cores and nasty pears go to the hens who have had so many they are starting to turn their noses up at them.  In fact, one day we dumped a few wheelbarrows full of soft pears that had fallen from the tree into their pen which was not at all a wise idea.  Now they are fermenting, our yard smells like vinegar, and I'm pretty sure our chickens are getting drunk.  I'm also anticipating some pear flavored eggs in the coming weeks.


If you are canning slices, use pears that are a few days under ripe.  The cooking process does soften them and if you use pears that are at the at perfect stage of biting (at least for me...the boys like the harder ones), they'll get too soft in the canner.  This is nice because it gives you some leeway when you have so many pears and are afraid they'll all be ready at once.  As you prep them and slice them, throw the ones that slice softly and easily into the crock for sauce.  The firmer ones go in the water bath.

I use the dishwasher to sterilize the jars and lids.  It's a bit tricky to time everything.  (Note to others:  when you are shopping appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, don't forget to check how long the cycles are!  Our dishwasher takes almost TWO HOURS for a normal cycle and our washing machine one hour.  And stuff still doesn't come out all that clean.  It is such a pain.)  If I don't feel like waiting I will stick them in the boiling water in the canner for a few minutes.  

I've never done them in a simple syrup.  I feel like it's a waste when the pears are so sweet and I don't want my kids drinking that much sugar anyway.  This time I tried a batch with a bit of honey in the water and the rest I did with about 1/2 cup of sugar in about one or two gallons of water.  Next time I'll probably just do plain water.  For some reason I was nervous to do completely eliminate the sugar this time.  I think I read somewhere that the sugar helps with preserving so that was in my head but then I read that you really don't need it at all.


I always forget to check for air bubbles and release them to the top.  It's sort of important and the first few batches I didn't.  But I figure everything was boiled long enough (25 minutes for quarts and 20 for pints) that hopefully anything harmful is killed.  It's honestly not something I worry too much about.  If something has gone bad usually you can see or smell it when you open the jar later.  If in a few months I come down with listeria (botulism?  I can't remember.) you will all now know why and realize that I totally deserved it.  I don't even have the two inches of water over the top of them when they are boiling since the pot isn't tall enough.  I'm like the honey badger of canning, you guys.  I don't even care.  I just make sure the water covers the lids and the pot lid stays on so it doesn't evaporate much.  


I do a very simple crockpot sauce.  I throw the soft pears in there on high until they are tender and then puree.  No added ingredients.  In the past when I've peeled, I've hand mashed them since I like the lumps but with the peels on it makes more sense to puree them.  When the sauce is ready, it's also processed in the canner.  I did most of the sauce in pint jars since you're not really going to use more than 2 cups at a time, right?


Canning sounds so intimidating and it sometimes feels that way but once you are all set up, it's not that difficult.  You just need the chunks of time and the necessary pots to be able to do it.  Most of mine are garage sale finds.  I don't even have a real canner.  I just use a giant pot and put them right in without a rack because I'm a crazy rebel like that.  It won't hurt anything and you don't need to spend lots of money on all the special equipment.  


But buy the jar tongs.  Because, you know, scalding boiling water and all.

{funny}


The first few days there was a lot of pear pilfering.  I think the novelty has worn off a bit as the week has gone on...


Even the Luke babe can help.  Sort of.
(Ooh.  See that flower box in the background?  The boys made that together for my birthday!  Sweetest.)

I also just learned that the rings aren't supposed to stay on the jars after they're processed!  Who knew? They're just meant to hold the lid on during the canning and then be removed after they are completely cool.  Otherwise, they get rusty (which mine did) and that makes the lids rusty and you have to keep buying more.  Lids are supposed be used brand new but I make a (maybe probably not that really) prudent decision and inspect them carefully.  If the rubber seal is still fresh and intact without any scrapes or marring, I reuse them.  Like I said.  Rebel.

{real}


Blessed.  So so blessed.  It's a little sad that the pear skins don't stay their vibrant green and red in the canner and instead turn a less pleasant shade of yellow.  But we'll take it for a winter's worth of organic fruit at the ready.  Those brown sticks in some are cinnamon sticks that have been in my spice cabinet literally for years.  I felt fancy.


I mean, really.  Look at this.
(See their ringless selves?  Don't they look naked?)  

I haven't even had a chance to do any baking or fun things with the fresh pears yet but now that the canning is d.o.n.e. maybe I'll muster up the energy to do a pie or crisp.  We'll see.


Linking again with Like Mother, Like Daugher for {pretty, happy, funny, real}
and Cari at Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday.




First time here? If you're interested you can get new Better Than Eden posts on Feedly or BlogLovin' and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Thank you so much for stopping by!


19 comments:

  1. I did canning for the first time this year with a tomato/apple chutney. I got a bumper crop of tomatoes this year doing a community garden and well we love chutney. I didn't know about taking off the rings though so thank you for the headsup!

    BTW, I'm fairly new to your blog but enjoying it very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you're here! Tomato apple sounds so intriguing! I never would have thought to put those together but now I want to try! Maybe I'll post on my lazy tomato ways sometime soon...

      Delete
  2. I have got to come back and read this all over again. Absolutely lovely. Better yet, I need to read it with my husband, it is his life long dream to be an apple farmer, really and truly. All of your pictures are spectacular and I could not choose a favorite, but the apron one is sticking in my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really enjoyed this! I gotta say though, if you get some drunk chickens then be sure to film them. =)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love pears. I wish I had a bounty to can! I am just starting to dip my toes in the waters of canning. Duly noted to buy the jar tongs. And yes, that flower box IS the sweetest.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow! I'm impressed! Even with your hilarious disclaimer that you're the "honey badger of canning"! It's so cool, maybe I'll give it a shot :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. very nice! envy is so not pretty!
    I usually take the rings off, wash the outside of the jars and then put the rings back on after everything is dry. It helps to keep track of them and they don't get bent.
    I have never tried canning the pears without peeling - will have to try that!

    What kind of trees do you have? I am trying to convince my husband his beautiful front yard needs to become an orchard!

    Blessings
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not even sure! I know we have two varieties. One ripens a bit later, has the bumpy bottom, stays green and is harder (I think maybe D'anjou). The other one is the redder one and are better fresh (maybe seckel? I just looked that up.) I'd love to have more fruit trees but I'm so impatient with the growing and I keep thinking we may move anyway!

      Delete
  7. Wonderful! I've loved reading your blog, and love that you have pears too. I'm going to try the sauce. And yea for no real canning supplies! We put some jar rings into the big pot of water, just to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot, and when ever my husband asks for one of those metal pens to pick up the seals, I tell him they're for babies. Thanks for encouraging me to pick my pears...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh good! That's a good idea about the rings. I don't think the pot I use is tall enough to do that with quarts but it would be for the smaller jars. I don't even know why you're supposed to not have them on the bottom anyway...I've never had an issue doing it without. Although that rack looks nice for putting them in and pulling them out altogether rather than running back and forth in my kitchen carrying scalding hot jars in the tongs :)

      Delete
  8. I had no idea the rings were supposed to come off!!! I've been keeping them on, that might explain why some of them have started rusting...

    And I re-use lids, too - if after they go through the dishwasher I can't tell which ones have been used, I think it's totally okay! Sometimes they're definitely too damaged, but usually I can use them again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! We can live the wild life together, Rosie!

      Delete
  9. Your pears look soo yummy! Your whole post just makes your kitchen so inviting! I love your apron too :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh wow! We didn't have much time to work on our garden and such this year but I am hoping next year to have a ton of canning to do!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Soooo beautiful! I've never canned, but I keep intending to do it. Next summer, by golly. My neighbor Jill said she'll teach me, and I'd rather have a real person teach me than learn off the web. That's fine for knitting and stuff like that, but canning deals with food and germs and stuff, so I want to see somebody else do it and then live to tell the tale.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, I want to be a canner! After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few years back I looked into it a bit. I don't have a garden right now, so it seems silly, but I still want to try it sometime. Lovely photos, Mary!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wash my jars in the dishwasher, dry them and then out them in my oven, temperature at 170degrees, this keeps,them perfectly warm to them put the hot contents into. It eliminates the timing issue with getting your jars right ou of the hot dishwasher to use, and you don't have to fuss with warming them in he canner beforehand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea! We don't have A/C and these days have been soooo hot and humid that I've been very reluctant to turn the oven on but that would definitely be handy to have them sitting there ready to go like that. I may try that next time, though, thanks!

      Delete
  14. I made and canned applesauce all afternoon and all I could think about is your pear sauce! Too bad Lake Ontario is in the way or we could trade some jars, or can together just like the old days. We are going to make some hard cider with our leftover apples (it's terribly easy), what about making some pear cider?

    BTW, I love the rosary :).

    ReplyDelete

Your nice comment makes my day. I love knowing that you were here and the only way I do is if you take the time to leave a note here! Thank you for taking the time to do that! If you'd like to contact me privately, please email me at betterthaneden1 (at) yahoo (dot) com. Please know I read and appreciate every comment even if I can't reply personally.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...