12 August 2011

Preserving pretty pears = pain

Peeling, coring, and cutting up all those pears turned out to be an awful lot of trouble. I spent the whole morning on them and made a big mess. Pear juice covered everything. Luckily, it's easy enough to wipe up.

Pretty pears

After I had peeled and prepared all the pears, I packed them into jars. I think I should have used larger jars. It would have been less trouble for me, and Walt says that for a single pie or other dessert, he will need to open two or three jars anyway.

A pile of pear peelings...

I peeled and cored only about half the pears that I had picked. At that point, I was fed up with the whole process. Walt will make a fresh pear tart today with some of the remaining pears. We went to the supermarket yesterday afternoon and bought a bottle of 80-proof (40º) alcool pour fruits to "pickle" the rest of the pears in. That seems like it will be easier, but the pears still have to be peeled, at least, and maybe they should be cored as well. But the jars won't have to be sterilized.

...from a pile of pears

For the pears I put up in sterilized jars yesterday, I made a light sugar syrup using 300 grams of sugar for one liter of water. Following those proportions, I put in a kilogram of sugar and dissolved it in 3.3 liters of water. I brought the syrup to the boil and kept it going on a low simmer as I worked. I actually had nearly half of the syrup left over. We'll use it for something else.

Peeled pears waiting to be cored

After putting the pears in jars, I poured (or ladled) boiling syrup over them to fill the jars. I screwed on lids and then processed the jars in a pressure cooker on high pressure for about five minutes. Then I released the pressure off the fire and let the jars cool for a while inside the pot.

Pears in light sugar syrup with vanilla.
This is all I got for an awful lot of work and time spent.

The disaster happened when I started to take the sealed and sterilized jars of pears out of the pressure cooker. There were four small jars and one very large one. Problem was, when I lifted the large jar out, the bottom fell out of it! So I had a pot full of cooked pears and syrup, with a big piece of glass sitting in the bottom of it.

Then the bottom fell out.

Luckily the break was perfectly clean. I carefully took the cooked pears out of the syrup with a slotted spoon and put them on a metal tray so they weren't touching each other. Then I froze them. This morning I took the individually frozen pears off the tray and put them in a freezer bag for storage.

Today we'll probably pack some pears
in this alcool special pour fruits.

All in all, I don't feel like I got very many jars of pears for all my work. They'd better be good! I don't know when we'll taste them. However, I'm sure today's tart made with some of the remaining fresh pears will be good. I'm also pretty sure I'll think twice about processing pears this way the next time.


  1. Well, I was completely wrong when I told our hosts that the alcohol was 80º. He said that seemed too high, but I insisted. My bad...

  2. I'm sure they will be delicious and well worth the effort. It's a shame you have to do all this work when you have all the other garden/harvesting/preserving work to do as well ~ I'm sure you would enjoy it more in the middle of winter, when there's nothing else to do instead !!

    They look beautiful, too. For myself, I usually just peel and chop them roughly, cook them slightly, pack them into plastic boxes and freeze them. They don't look half as pretty as yours but it's quick and they do very well in a crumble, cobbler or pie, where the pastry lid covers all the untidiness !!
    I sometimes mix them with other fruits eg strawberries or blackberries before baking, but I think this is probably a very English way of making puddings.

    (PS thank you for your kind comments about my redcurrant jelly.)

  3. We were talking about your garden again, and the wonderfully abundant apple harvest you will have. Our daughter suggested you might host a couple of young people at harvest/canning time to help you out for several hours a day in exchange for room and board. It's called woofing and there's a website: http://www.woofing.fr/. She's been doing this kind of thing for several months on farms where the tasks have been building rather than farming. You don't fit the definition of a farm, but the idea is there. It could take some of the overwhelming aspect out of the garden and then preserving, even if just for a week.

  4. Wow, I feel for you, Ken. I like Jean's idea, though, of course, those chopped pear pieces wouldn't work in one of Walt's gorgeous tartes where everything is arranged so beautifully, we know.

    Ellen, that's a cool thing you've described!


  5. Live and learn, non? The jar breaking was the worst part to me, but you salvaged it.
    I bet the tart will be worth the trouble.

  6. Can you leave the skin on and just slice the pears? Sorry about the broken jar. I had a glass pitcher break like that once when I was making iced tea. Scary! And hot.

  7. Your story reminds me of a recent Easter when we pulled a Pyrex dish filled with delicious, bubbling Gratin Dauphinois out of the oven and set it on the stovetop.
    There was a loud pop and shards of glass went into the food and all over the floor. We don't wear shoes in the house, so it made for an interesting exit out of the kitchen for us and our shoeless guests.
    Glad to hear you had a clean break.

  8. Judy, Woofing is something that seems to have originated in Australia. (Perhaps some Aussie readers might be able to confirm that.) It seems a great way for young people to manage vacation expenses. For my daughter and her partner, it was specifically to learn several eco building techniques and to find a place for them. They did it intensively in the south of France with few vacation breaks (at home) at New Year's and Easter. It was a long time to be living out of a back pack and doing hard labor. I don't think they regret it, though. They know where they want to settle and what they want to do now.

  9. I wish I were there to help. I love canning. We have been making dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. We are drying tomatoes, making confit and freeaing "whole" tomatoes. We canned three-bean salad. Last year we got 98# of cucumbers and this year I think it will be as much or more. We are already over 60# of tomatoes.
    I too have had jars break, but it usually turns out I didn't use a proper jar, or used a really old one.

  10. Oy. Hope it all seems worth it next winter when you get to eat "summer from a jar."


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