Friday, September 05, 2008

We've been inside for a few days

Though our area was a near miss for hurricane force winds, we have gotten rain, rain, and more rain. Last night, after I thought it was finished, we got even more rain. In other words, we have spent a good bit of time inside. The time was not wasted.

We made pear preserves.

Pear preserves are the most labor intensive of the fruit based canning I do, because you have to peel the pears, core the pears, then slice the pears before you can start cooking. Mississippi pears are not like the pears of the cooler climates. They are hard - hand cramping, claw producing hard. Peeling and coring are a labor of love. My husband helped peel since he was stuck in the house all weekend.

Once peeled, I run them through the food processor to slice them because I'm all about efficiency and uniformity of slices in the jar. In fact, I slip the end pieces in my mouth. Once sliced I sprinkle them with lemon juice so they won't turn brown before I get a chance to cook them.

Once the pears are peeled, cored and sliced you add sugar, lemon slices, and some water and cook. I find that the pears will get done before the syrup is thick, so I remove the pears at the end and cook the syrup longer until it is the color and consistency I like. Then, I return the pears to the syrup and make sure everything is hot before I put the preserves in jars.

Pears are a low acid food. Even though I use liberal amounts of sugar and lemon, care must be taken in the water bath or pressure cooking. By all means make sure you release all air bubbles and don't scrimp on the recommended times in the canning guides. You don't want to poison anyone.


Mama B said...

That's lovely! Now question or maybe it doesn't work this way in MS but in Iowa the pears won't ripen on the tree well. Do your ripen on the tree?? Our pear tree is full and I am thinking that once they are ready (mature and have a slight give to them) I'll pull them all off the tree.

But I'm nervous! This the first year since we planted to tree almost 10 years ago that we have pears!

Wisteria said...

Pears rot on the trees here before they will truly ripen. We never get the slight give, before deterioration begins. Apples are the same.

I read somewhere that the reason the south doesn't produce great pears and apples is because a cool snap is needed (and I don't mean temperatures of 80) to bring the sugar to the fruit which also brings the color and ripening agents.

There is nothing wrong with small batches. Try a few now and another few in a few days. You'll eventually know just when to harvest.

zilla said...

If you use statcounter, it might seem like I lurked here for hours today. I started reading, then I got called away to do payroll, and forgot to close the window -- silly me :-)

If these are from your orchard, what variety of pear do you grow?

I have always wanted to have just one pear tree because I think they're beautiful, even when they aren't "espaliered" or whatever it's called to maximize fruiting. MrZ found them "overused" by a particular landscape architecture professor he had, so he's not been on board with the idea thus far. He does love pears, though!

I think I notice a slice of lemon in one of the jars. I love your "form follows function" approach to canning. Lemon is every bit as lovely as it is functional, so why not take advantage?

Wisteria said...

Zilla, You can hang out on my front porch anytime. Sneaking in internet time isn't easy. I imagine people think I'm insane if they can identify me from a stat counter because of my inconsistent visits.

These pears are from one of the trees at our rent house and a friend's tree. I'll have to look up the name.

Melora said...

Your preserves are absolutely lovely. That last sentence, though, sums up why I am too scared to try canning.

Sister Susan said...

I love seeing those beautiful jars and can only wish to be the recipient of the work product. So glad you are back up and writing. W and I have been enjoying new posts.

Angela said...

How yummy! Those pics and the bins full of apples on my table is making me think apple butter today. Thanks for the inspiration

BTW... you can now find me at

m~ said...

I'm glad y'all didn't have any storm damage.
The pears look wonderful! I did some canning for the first time this year, but I don't know if I'm brave enough to try canning pears. I'm afraid I might give my entire family botchalism.

Melanie said...

I'm de-lurking to say, Oh Wisteria, I miss you. I found your blog a few months ago and spent many happy lunch hours getting to know you and your family and your Yellow Dog. Your life and community sound a lot like mine, even though you're where you are and I'm in a small place in the middle of California. I cried when I read about the closing of Yellow Dog books and have learned so much vicariously from your posts. And then the storm(s) came and your long silence and I've been worried. Am hoping you're just up-to-your-earlobes busy with harvest and schooling and the like. I keep coming wistfully back to the blog - it's like looking across the field at the home of a cherished neighbor who's away on an extended visit. I keep hoping to suddenly see the lights on and know that my friend is back home again.