Sunday, September 25, 2011

Canning Pears

Every year my friend places are large order of pears from the LDS church's pear orchards, and every year I can them. 
Pears are actually the only fruit that I like canned.  Everything else gets too mushy for me.  Anyway, this year I took a bunch of pictures so I could blog about it.

To start with, pears only require waterbath canning so you don't need a pressure canner for this. Besides the canner (or even just a giant pot really), you need basic canning supplies and jars and lids.  Some people really prefer Ball jars over Kerr but I've used both and didn't see any difference.  I do, however, only use wide mouth jars.  They are easier to fill and empty.  Amazon has a pretty nice section devoted just to canning supplies and information.  Shop around though because Walmart's prices are sometimes cheaper.

First I ran my jars and rings through the dishwasher to clean and sterilize them.  I just left them in there until I was ready to fill them so they would be nice and hot.  Cold jars into a hot canner = exploding glass. And yes, I speak from sad experience.....

Then I filled up a big container of water and added some Fruit Fresh.  This keeps the pears from turning brown.  You can also use lemon juice.

Peel the pears, cut them in half and use a melon baller to core them.  You can cut them into smaller pieces of you want but it just seemed like extra work to me, plus I like them bigger so they retain as much of their shape as possible.  I kept the pears in the Fresh Fruit solution until they went into the jars.

Pears must be packed in a solution of water and sugar or fruit juice.  It's up to you which to use. I have tried both and I didn't not like the juice nearly as much.  Sugar is added to improve flavor, help stabilize color, and retain the shape of the fruit. It is not added as a preservative. When making the sugar water syrup you can make it heavy, medium, or light, depending on what you prefer.  My family likes the medium.  To prepare syrup, heat water, add sugar slowly, stirring constantly to dissolve. Bring to a gentle boil. After preparing the liquid syrup, keep it hot (but not boiling).

Sugar Syrup

2 cups
6 cups
7 cups
3 cups
6 cups
6 1/2 cups
4 cups
6 cups
7 cups

Now I had multiple items going on the stove.  First the water was heating in the canner, plus I had my lids sterilizing in a small pot, and finally I had the syrup heating so it would be ready to add to the jars.

Once everything was hot and ready to go, I could add the pears to the quart jars.  I only took a couple out of the dishwasher at a time to preserve heat.  Then I carefully placed the pears in the jar packing them tightly without squishing them.  Now many people hot pack the pears, meaning they boil them in the sugar water for 5 minutes or so before putting them in the jars.  I have always cold packed them and they turn out fine.

Once the pears are in the jar you need to pour some of your syrup in the jar, leaving about 1/2 inch head space.  The pears should be covered completely by the syrup.  Then take a knife and release all the air bubble trapped under the pears.

Finally, wipe the top of the jars with a clean, dry, towel to remove any moisture or food particles that might prevent a good seal.  Carefully take a lid from the hot water and place it on your jar with a ring.  Do not over tighten the lid.  Turn the ring until it just tightens and then stop.

 Place the jars carefully into the canner.  They should be covered with at least 1 inch of water.  Also, never put jars directly on the bottom of the canner, they need to go on a rack like the ones that come with the canner.  Use the chart below to calculate your processing time:

Water Bath Times. Recommended process time for Pears, halved or sliced in a boiling-water canner,  in pints or quart jars.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Jar size
0 - 1,000 ft
1,001 - 3,000 ft
3,001 - 6,000 ft
Above 6,000 ft

20 min
25 min

After processing, use your jar grabber to carefully remove your jars from the canner.  Do not tilt the jars as you remove them, and carefully place them on a towel or rack.  Again, placing them on a cool, or even room temperature, counter can cause the jars to crack or explode.

Leave the jars out for 24 hours without touching or bumping them.  After they are cooled, you can tell if they're sealed by pushing on the center of the lid and listening for a popping sound.  If the lid pops, it did not seal.  You will need to put that jar into the fridge and eat it soon.

When you are ready to put the jars into storage (store in a cool, dark place for maximum shelf life) be sure to remove the rings.  Lids can sometimes lose their seal and then reseal if the ring is still on tight.  You will never know the seal was compromised.  If you remove the rings the lid can not reseal.

Canned pears will maintain quality best when stored up to 66 months at 40/F, 40 months at 70/F, or 15 months at 90/F. 

On a related note, I also canned more chicken.  I did breasts this time but since I had used up all my quart jars, I had to do them in pint jars.  That was a mistake because a pint jar only holds 1 1/2 chicken breasts  LOL!  Way too small for my family.  Still it's all I had so I did it.

I really can't get over how EASY it is to can chicken.  I was cramming it in between a soccer game and a baptism and didn't have any trouble.  I also tried my re-usable canning lids on a couple of them.  Last time I had trouble with those sealing but this time I lightly tightened the rings as normal, and then after I took them out of the canner I tightened them down further.  Both of mine sealed correctly.

For a more detailed post on canning chicken please see my previous post: Canning Chicken with Re-Usable Canning Lids.

Yes, I am aware that canned chicken looks like a Biology dissection experiment waiting to happen, however, if you can get past the looks, it really is incredibly convenient and delicious.  You don't add any liquid when canning chicken so what you are seeing is pure chicken broth from that chicken.  Plus, it does not need to be refrigerated so you can take this chicken camping without having to worry about keeping it in the ice chest.  Or if you get home late and have to throw dinner together in a hurry, there you have precooked chicken just ready to shred or chop into whatever recipe.  I really can't say enough about how great it is!