Preserved Pears

The thing about having fruit trees is that when they produce, they really produce. One day you’ll be looking longingly at the tree, the next day you can’t keep up with the boxloads of fruit coming off of it. So what you do is share. I’ll give you a big bag of Grannys if you give me a big bag of fuyus. We sent Hank home the other day with some pomegranates and he showed up a few days later with a bag of Bartlett pears from his tree.

Still, a bag of fruit is a lot to get through before they spoil. So, in the case of Hank’s beautiful pears I decided to simply can them, in a light sugar syrup, with a few pear-loving spices thrown in for good measure. It’s an easy way to preserve the fruit for later enjoyment, when it’s at its ripest. I’m using a light syrup ratio of a cup of sugar to a quart of water. You could also use apple juice or white grape juice as your canning liquid. You could even use water, though a lightly sugared solution will help the fruit retain its color for storage longer than a few weeks. For spices I used cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon, because I know these spices complement the flavor of the pears. You could use nutmeg or vanilla too.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 pounds Bartlett pears
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 1-quart canning jars or 6-8 pint jars

Method

If you plan on canning the pears for shelf (non-refrigerated storage), sterilize your jars by either placing them in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes, or in boiling water for 10 minutes. Once the jars are filled with pears, you'll want to process in a water bath as well. You'll need a large (12-quart if you are using pint jars, 16-quart if you are using quart jars) stock pot with a rack at the bottom (we use a steaming rack) so that the jars don't touch the bottom of the pan. Fill three quarters of the way with hot water and put on the stove to bring to a boil. While the water is heating proceed with the recipe. If you plan to freeze or refrigerate your canned pears you can skip this step.

1 Peel, core, and quarter the pears. Add them to a bowl of cold water that has been acidified with lemon juice or citric acid (can use the contents of a vitamin C capsule), to help prevent discoloration of the pears from oxidation.

2 In a large (5 or 6 quart) pot, add the sugar, water, and spices. Bring to a boil. Transfer the pear quarters from their lemon solution to the boiling sugar water. Let come to a boil again, cook for 5 minutes.

3 Pack your canning jars with the pears. Pour the remaining syrup over the pears to cover, leaving 1/2-inch of headroom from the tops of the jars. Wipe the rims with a paper towel. Put on the lids.

4 If canning for long term shelf storage (up to a year), place in a water bath for 20 minutes.

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