25 September 2009

Pears Today, Pears Tomorrow (or Pippi's Adventures in Canning)

I love this time of year! The fruit trees are all heavy with their bounty, and I can't help but take advantage! I was out in my garden yesterday, and my neighbor called over the fence to me, "Pippi, the plums are ready! Come get some!" So I gathered up my picking bucket, and chatted with Marie as we picked the small, deep purple plums that covered the branches. They looked so pretty, I soon ran to get my camera, too!

I picked 3 gallons before heading back to my kitchen to clean and wash them, and cook them into jam. The plums are a small Italian variety - tart, and about the size of a large olive, and I knew that pitting them all by hand would be a huge chore, so I decided to try something different.

I cooked a smaller pan full of the plums, with a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan, and when the fruit had softened enough to fall off the pits, I poured it through a strainer, and mashed it with a wooden spoon, to get as much of the pulp from the pits as possible. Then, I poured the fruit puree back into my stock pot, and made the jam as usual. Way easier! I took these pictures while the second batch of jam was still in the heat bath.

I made 18 jars of the plum jam last night, and decided that I would can pears today. Last year, we had a good crop of pears on the two trees in the front yard, and I dried most of them, so this year, I decided to make canned pears, instead of drying them. I picked about 40 pears this afternoon from one tree, brought them in, washed them, and started peeling and cutting them into eighths.

I made a light syrup with organic cane sugar, and a small amount of orange juice (to help keep them from darkening), and then, as I filled each jar with as many pear pieces as I could stuff in, I poured the syrup over them, closed them, and then heat treated them to seal and preserve them. I filled the twelve wide-mouth pint jars I bought this morning, so as the second batch was in the heat bath, I scooted down to the store to buy another dozen for tomorrow's canning. I'm sure I will be buying even more jars before I am done! It will be so nice this winter to have pears whenever we want them.

I think I am going to play around with canning pear pie filling, too. Pear pie is one of my favorites (that and cherry), and we usually only have it in the fall, but it would be so nice to make a crust, pour a jar of pear pie filling into it and bake it in the cold winter months, too. I'll let you know how it goes!

Happy Fall, everyone!

1 comment:

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