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look, we canned pears

too bad i hate pears

Yup, we sure did.

I provided the kitchen and the canner and my aunt picked the pears, cleaned the pears, peeled the pears, cut the pears, packed the pears, and processed the pears.

I practically did it all by myself!

the canning stuff, yawn

yer basic hot water bath canning setup

Right there you see the basic canning setup on the stovetop. I began doing this a few years ago, absorbed in some weird home ec flashback. I say weird, because home ec was actually more about how to not kill yourself in the kitchen and how to hand sew misshapen stuffed animals made of highly-flammable polyester. And less about useful stuff like, you know, canning.

Since this stuff often hits Facebook, I bet some of you were in that 7th grade home ec class, or had one yourself. Did you honestly ever cook anything more involved than no-bake chocolate cookies? If that. But I digress, as I am wont to do.

6 pints in 2 hours, man

We (she) canned 6 pints of pears in 2 hours. Of course, many pears do not make it into little jars, and instead find themselves eaten by nephews and ignored by super adorable kittens.

justin, jen, pear, kitteh

canned pears

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. It’s a canning bible. Seriously. I bolded the main parts, but really, the meat is in the unbolded stuff. Stuff like how not to shatter your jars, little things like that.

makes: 6 pints
prep: 30 minutes
processing: 20 minutes
out of the canner: 2 hours, tops

special equipment:
boiling-water canner
• canning jars
• 2-piece lids.
• A canning kit is also really nice to have. It has a funnel, jar tongs, magnetic lid lifter — I do not know how I lived without this — and a couple other things I forget. Those three things are the most handy.

I’ve put together a bunch of canning equipment in the store too.

Now, Linda did a cold pack in medium syrup. The recipe calls for a hot pack in light syrup. I’m going to share the recipe version.

    6 to 9 pounds of pears
    2-1/4 cups sugar
    5-1/4 cups water

1. Prepare jars and lids: Wash all in hot soapy water and rinse. You have to keep the jars hot. Ball’s going to kill me, but here’s how I do it, and how my mom did it: Stand the jars in a cold oven. Turn on the oven to 200. No higher, and no turning on the oven until the jars are in there.

Or if you have a dishwasher, run them through the dishwasher cycle, and leave them hot in there until ready to use. Man, it would be nice to have a dishwasher.

2. Put lids (not bands, they don’t need special treatment besides washing) in a small saucepan, and cover in water. Heat to a low simmer (180 degrees) and keep that way until you need them. Don’t boil.

2.5. Fill the canner about halfway with water, and put on to boil. If it comes to a boil while you’re still prepping, turn it down to a low simmer.

3. Prepare the light syrup. Mix sugar and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer 2-3 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved. Keep hot.

4. Wash the pears. Just a little rinse is good; you’re going to peel them anyway.

5. Peel pears, cut into halves or quarters, and core. Put into a large bowl filled with water some Fruit Fresh to prevent darkening.

6. Add enough pears to the light syrup to cover the bottom of the pan in 1 layer, no deeper. Simmer lightly for 5-6 minutes, or until hot throughout.

7. Pack hot pears into hot jars. Ladle syrup over the pears, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. This is where the funnel comes in really handy.

8. Using a plastic knife or similar tool, remove air bubbles from the jars by running the knife around the inside of the jar. It may seem like it does nothing. Don’t worry; it helped.

9. Wipe the tops of the jars clean with a sponge or towel. Stuffing fruit into jars can get messy, and you want to make sure no bits or juice are clinging to the glass that the bands and lids touch. This can keep a good seal from forming in the water bath, which sucks because then you have to re-process.

10. Using the magnetic lid lifter, remove lids from the small saucepan and put them on the jars. Center the lids so the rubber seal is in contact with the glass. Don’t worry; this isn’t hard.

11. Twist bands onto the jars. Pay attention that the lids don’t get knocked too far out of whack. Tighten the bands only until you begin to feel resistance, to where they are on but they are not on tight. Tight bands before processing are bad.

12. Using your jar lifter, put your 6 pints of pears into the boiling water canner.

13. Bring the water to a hard rolling boil, then reduce to maintain a gentle rolling boil while processing. Once the water has come to a boil, process for 20 minutes.

14. After 20 minutes, you get to use the jar lifter again. Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a towel to cool. Don’t put them directly on the counter. Protip: a lot of these don’ts mean “if you do do this, your jars might shatter and create a huge mess.”

15. Allow them to sit on the counter for 12 to 24 hours. After this time has passed, check for the seal. Touch the top of the lid. If it gives, it didn’t seal and you must either refrigerate and eat within a few days or process again. If the lid doesn’t give, congrats! You’ve got pears!

Remove the bands before storing the canned pears. They aren’t needed and only tend to rust on the jars.

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your comments

  1. Amy Sirk says:

    Thanks for this page. I was gifted two big bags of pears this fall and was baffled as to what to do with them. I followed your example but added a little crystallized ginger just to keep things interesting.

  2. Sherry Naysmith says:

    My husband says you are a gem! Thank you for the information…it was fun to read. If you ever decide to do illustrated childrens cookbooks, contact me. I do the cutest animals…from kitties to collies.

    Sherry

  3. donna says:

    just wondering how long should you wait before opening the jars to eat them?

  4. Kathy Statzer says:

    You don’t comment when to put the rest of the pairs in the hot water.

  5. You mentioned putting pairs one layer in bottom of syrup, do you do the same for all of the pairs one layer at a time?

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for asking, Kathy! That’s a good question. We didn’t can pears this year so my memory isn’t fresh, but I think if you can’t do all the pears at once, you’d:

      • Pack the pears that were ready in the syrup (ones that have just cooked 5 min)
      • If it’s 6 or 7 jars’ worth, begin processing.
      • If it’s fewer than that and you want a full pot for processing, set filled jars in raised rack in canner while preparing more pears in syrup. This means the hot, filled jars will sit for 5 minutes, but they will be half submerged in boiling water and should be fine.

      If doing pints, one “round” of one-layered pears in syrup will probably fill 6 jars.

      I hope this helps!

  6. Jeanne Grubin says:

    If you don’t tighten the jars before the water bath, does water seep in? A friend tried the water bath and she said water seeped in the jars, so I have been afraid too try the water bath. Thanks, love the recipe but afraid of water bath.

    • Amy says:

      No, it doesn’t. You do tighten the bands, just not super-tight. You go until there’s resistance, but you could still tighten them a bit more.

  7. Barbara Ellis says:

    Instead of regular sugar, can you use the spenda in a bag that is used for baking? Thanks.

    • Amy says:

      Check out what the National Center for Home Food Preservation has to say about using Splenda. It looks like it might be okay to use Splenda when canning fruits the way we are here.

      Relevant:

      “Canning Fruits: Whereas we do not have published research work with using sucralose in the canning of fruits at home available to us, it is possible to use it for sweetening the water used to cover fruits when canning. The texture and color preserving aspects of a sugar syrup will not be provided. The result would be like canning in water except for the additional sweetness contributed by the Splenda®. The USDA fruit canning directions do allow for canning in water (i.e., without a sugar syrup), as there is adequate preservation for safety from the heat of proper canning. Some people do notice an aftertaste in other products and canned fruits, and it is possible some little changes in natural flavors may occur over storage time, since sugar can mask some of these. For people used to sucralose sweetening and flavors, the aftertaste may not be an issue. Based on some of our experiences in canning peaches and pickled foods, we suggest you start seeing what you like by trying less than a full substitution for the sugar in canning syrups. For example, if you use a medium sugar syrup that is 5-/14 cups water to 2-1/4 cups sugar, try 1 to 1-1/4 cups Splenda® the first time. You can always sweeten more when you serve the finished product if it is not quite sweet enough; then you can increase the canning liquid amount the next time you can.”

  8. Andrea says:

    I forgot to boil the pears but followed the rest of the recipe (yes, I am a doofus – I’ve never canned before). I just put everything in the canner. What do you think will be the result?

    • Amy says:

      Contact your local cooperative extension service for the definitive answer. A quick Google showed me that experts don’t recommend a cold or raw pack for pears, I think just because the taste or texture might be inferior. However, anecdotally I saw several people who use a cold pack for pears when they can.

      One potential issue I could think of is that your canning recipe was assuming the fruit would be hot as well as the syrup going into the canner. Canning recipes are timed to heat everything long enough and hot enough to meet USDA requirements for canning safety, and if the fruit goes in cold in a hot recipe, the fruit might not have reached the proper temp for safety.

      However, to be sure, click the link above; it goes to a Wikipedia page listing every state’s cooperative extension office. Those people are there ready to help you with precisely this sort of question, and they are happy to help! Let me know how it goes.

  9. JodeeO says:

    Thanks Amy! I just tried your pear recipe. They came out right to the 6 pint T! Can’t wait to try these mid-winter!

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