We bought our property here in West Virginia in December 2017 and the previous owners raved about how much fruit they had harvested from the old Apple and Pear trees around the house. 2018 came and went away and we were utterly disappointed about not being able to harvest a single apple or pear from those old, neglected trees. Then in early spring 2019 we raised 14 ducklings and i dumped one load of poop soaked brooder bedding around the pear tree, thinking "maybe that helps", but over the year i forgot about it. Some days ago my wife came back from our mail-box and excitedly told me: »That pear tree is full of pears! I go get me some…« - This is the pear tree with some pears visible:
And these are the pears it bears:
Yet another disappointment: Those pears have a disgusting looking peel, taste sour and tart and make your mouth contract. - [Here are more pictures of the tree and the pears]
But, then i remembered that there was pear tree exactly like that in my parent's yard when i was a child, with the same kind of distasteful fruits from which my mother made the most delicious canned pears!
Here is her recipe, you need:
Start with making the syrup by mixing 150 grams of sugar into 1 liter of water (if you are a sweet tooth you can add more sugar, but don't tell the doc!). Add approximately ¼ teaspoon of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) per liter to the solution and bring it to a boil. I recommend to make more syrup than you need, the rest won't do to waste, see later…
- Peeled and cleaned pears, sliced or cubed or just cut in irregular shapes
- Ascorbic-acid powder (Vitamin C)
While the syrup is heating up, rise your glasses out with hot water for a final time and arrange them upside down together with their lids on a squeaky clean kitchen towel, you set-up should look similar to this (please ignore the tomatoes, they have nothing to do with this article):
Pre-cooking the pears:
When the syrup is boiling, reduce the heat a little bit, so you don't burn yourself in the hot steam and pour the pieces of pears into the pot. Immediately you will notice, that the fruit, which has turned brownish in the mean time due to oxidation, will return to its normal, fresh cut color; that is due to the anti-oxidizing effect of the ascorbic acid. See the picture below:
Ascorbic acid will also act as a natural preservative against mold. I did not had a larger pot at hand, so i was only able to boil 2 liters of syrup at once and i had to process the pears in two batches, but that is not a problem at all.
Put the lid back on the pot, crank up the heat and bring the syrup back to a boil. While you wait for the syrup to heat up, turn as many of your canning-glasses upright, as you think you will need for the pears and drop one clove into each glass:
When the syrup with the pears is boiling again, reduce the heat, so that you don't burn yourself in the hot steam and grab one glass at a time, using another kitchen towel like shown in the next picture.
Do. Not. Use. A. Kitchen. Mitten!!! - You will burn yourself! [i did…]
Using a large spoon or a skimmer, fish the pieces of pears out of the syrup and drop them into the glasses. Do not overfill or stuff the glasses, the pears must have room to float later. Try not to put too much of the syrup into the glasses now.Once you have filled all pears into the glasses the scenery may look like this:First and most important reason is that the syrup is extremely hot and if you fill something that hot into a glass too fast, the glass may crack. Second, my pot was too small to pre-cook all the pears at once and i needed the syrup to pre-cook the second batch of pears.
If you have more pears that needed to be pre-cooked, put the lid back on your syrup-pot, crank up the heat and wait for the syrup to start boiling again. In the meantime, put the lids loosely on top of the glasses to prevent contamination:
When the syrup is boiling again, drop the remaining pears into the syrup as shown in the video below, also note the change in color:
Repeat these steps until you run out of pears. Once you're done with pre-cooking pears, it is time to fill the syrup into the canning glasses. Use your trusted kitchen towel again to hold one glass at a time and fill it with syrup. Don't fill it all the way to the top, an air cushion in the glass is necessary. Your syrup filled glasses should look like in the next picture:
Screw the lid tightly on the glass and set it back down on the counter-top, but upside-down:
My mom always told me to do that, but never explained why it is so important to keep the glasses upside-down.
Canning the pears with the pressure cooker
Once you are done with filling all the glasses with the syrup load them rightside-up into the pressure cooker:
Let the glasses sit upside-down on your counter-top; Turn them only just before you load them into the pressure cooker.
Pour about one cup of water into the pressure cooker and run the "canning" program. If your pressure cooker doesn't have a canning-program, just run it for 10 minutes.
Once the pressure-cooker is done, carefully vent the pressure and open the pot.
Be very careful, the glasses are very hot! They are in fact hotter than the boiling point of water (100°C / 212F) and they are currently under pressure. If they shatter you will suffer severe burns.
Note how the lids are bulging upwards:
While the glasses are hot, store them, again upside-down, on a kitchen towel on your counter-top. It is important that they cool down slowly. Never spray water on the hot glasses, they may shatter with dire consequences.
Again mom never told me why they must sit upside down until the lid is sucked shut:
Done for the day and ready to put the canned pears into the pantry for the winter:
But wait, there's more!Remember i told you to prepare more syrup than you will need to fill up the glasses?
By now it should be cold enough to drink, spice it up for example with some good rum
The pear-aroma is mind blowing! And you deserve it, you worked hard today!
And there is even more more:
If you have ducks or chickens, don't throw away the undesirable parts of the pears! For ducks, cut them into small pieces, cover them with water and let them dabble through the bowl:
For chickens, just dump the stuff into their run, they will jump for joy.
If you neither have chickens, nor ducks there is another use for this stuff, but you must be 21 or older and it involves a full moon…