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How To Can Pears
The finished product resting on my counter.
Fall is the time of year for putting food up for the winter. Food preservation has fallen by the wayside over the past few decades as the convenience of grocery stores and the availability of canned foods have increased. For most people that do preserve their own food, freezing is the most frequently used option. Canning food is a great way to preserve it and has its own set of benefits for doing so. Canned foods do not require electricity to store;therefore they are a good source of food during a power outage.
I bought a peck of pears this weekend and today I set about canning them. Using the Ball Blue Book of Preserving it was a very simple, albeit time consuming, task. Canning foods does tend to take more time than freezing them, but my freezer space is at a premium around here and canned foods are easier to store. Another benefit of canned foods is that you can just open them and eat them. You might want to reheat some foods, but most canned foods require very little work once they are canned. With frozen foods you have to remember to take them out of the freezer to thaw - which I seem to frequently forget to do.
The first thing I did was to set up what I needed to make my job as easy as possible. I really didn't want to spend the day standing at the stove, so I set up at my kitchen table. The tools I needed were a cutting board, three large bowls, knife, corer, Fresh Fruit and water in order to get started. I filled two of the bowls with a tablespoon of Fresh Fruit each and halfway with water. The Fresh Fruit will keep cut fruit from turning brown.
As I sat and got the pears ready for the canner I first cut the pears in half straight through the core. Next I used my corer to scoop out the core and pull off the strings that went up to the stem. I also used my corer to cut off the base and top of the stem. This step took about three seconds for each half pear. After both halves were taken care of, I then used a knife to peel the pears. I put all the cores and peeling into the third bowl to later be added to my compost pile.
After awhile my bowls got rather full and began to look like this. See how nice the pears look, they aren't turning brown at all. I filled each bowl two times with pears.
After I had all my pears ready for the canner, I poured them into a colander to drain off the water/Fresh Fruit mixture. In a very large pot I made up the light syrup that I canned the pears in. According to the Ball Blue Book of Preserving I needed to mix up a ratio of 2 1/4 cups of sugar for every 5 1/4 cups of water. I wasn't really sure how much syrup I would need so I quadrupled this and it was plenty for the peck of pears I was canning. I think mixing up this ratio times three would have been fine. But I didn't want to run short of the liquid needed to can the pears.
I heated the light syrup to a boil and then added the pears. I boiled them for about 10 minutes - enough to make sure the pears were heated all the way through. At this point it was time to fill the jars. When you are canning you want to make sure that everything is very sterile. You must boil the jars, lids and rings before each session of canning. Not only does it make it sterile, but the jars need to be hot when pouring in the hot liquid to prevent cracking. They need to boil for 2-3 minutes, so I set them up boiling on the stove just before I start ladeling the pears into jars and they were ready by the time I was done. Here is a picture of ladling the pears into the jars. I have a wide mouth funnel to pour the pears through which makes things much easier and not as messy.
Once I had all the jars filled I wiped the rims with a wet rag, so that I would get a clean seal. Then I placed the lids and the rings on and tightened the rings. Once the rings were tight I placed all the jars into my canner and added enough water to make sure there was at least two inches of water above the tallest jar. From a peck of pears I was able to can two quart jars and five pint jars. We also ate a few and I still have a few to eat this week. For quart jars you want to process in the canner for 25 minutes and for pints you process 20 minutes. Because I had some of both I processed for 25 minutes.
Once it was done I moved the canner off the stove and let it rest for five minutes before opening it. When you open a canner, always make sure to lift up the side away from you and not towards you. The steam is very hot and you don't want to get burned. Then I carefully removed the jars and placed them on a towel to cool. Then I waited with anticipation for the sweetest sound in canning - the pings of the lids sealing. It is music to your ears after a couple of hours of work. I can't wait to enjoy these delicious pears this winter.