August 28, 2013

How To Can Pears

It's that time of year!  I canned 7 quarts of pears last night.  The tree is still loaded with pears and I have another tree that will ripen in a couple of weeks.  Pears, unlike peaches or apples, can be picked early and they will continue to ripen.  I pick them early, wrap them in newspaper and let them set in my dark pantry for a few days.  This lets them get to that perfect ripeness.
 photo pears_zps8828844c.jpg 
  How To Can Pears
Lids and Rings

Wash and peel your pears.  I slice mine into about 1/4-inch slices, discard the hard middle containing the seeds.  I use a lot of my canned pears to make Pear Custard Bars.  When I get tired of slicing all those pears, I start canning them as halves!  Makes the job go much faster and these are great for the boys when they want a snack.  
I slice the pears into a large bowl of water with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice added to keep them from turning dark while I'm getting them ready to put into jars.
 While I'm doing this, I'm running my jars through the hot cycle on the dishwasher, you can put them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes to sanitize them as well.  I also have my large canner on the stove with water heating for the hot water bath part of canning and I put my lids and rings in a small sauce pan over low heat in very hot (not boiling) water. 
About 15 minutes before I finish the peeling and slicing, using a large pot, I put 6 cups of water and slowly add 2 cups of sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.  Bring this to a gentle boil.  This makes a light syrup and will fill approximately 7 quarts of pears.  See the chart below for medium and heavy syrup recipes.
When the pears are all sliced, using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water/lemon juice and pack them into your hot jars.  Make sure the pears are as flat as possible or you'll have a very large gap at the bottom of your jar when your finished.
When your jars are packed with pears, pour the boiling sugar water over the pears leaving 1/4-inch head space.  Using a butter knife or a wooden skewer, run it around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles.  Wipe the rim of your jar with a damp cloth then adjust hot lids and bands to finger-tight.
Put jars in the hot water bath.  Water should be about 1 inch above jar lids.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.  Start timing your water bath when it begins to boil.  
For quarts, 25 minutes.  For pints, 20 minutes.
Remove from hot water bath and let sit until cooled.  Lids should be sealed when cooled!  That's it, go can some pears!
Syrup (sugar to water ratios)
Heavy syrup:  4 cups of sugar to 6 cups of water
Medium syrup: 3 cups of sugar to 6 cups of water
Light Syrup: 2 cups of sugar to 6 cups of water

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