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.