Preserving Pears – Three ways

It’s pear season!  In the recent post on Quick Weeknight Meals, I talked about sauteing pears.  Today, let’s talk about preserving them.

Canning:
Pears canned in apple juice
Pears canned in apple juice or cider are a classic favourite in my house.  The method is described in this blog post from two years ago.  You can use whatever quantities suit your food storage needs.  I started with 15 lbs of pears and 2 litres of apple cider, and made 11 500 mL jars of canned pears.  I generally use these pears to make smoothies.  Throw half a jar of pears into the blender with 6-10 frozen strawberries and enough milk (regular or almond) to make it a liquid. Ta da – smoothie!

Pears canned in wine
This year I deviated from my usual, plain & practical, pears to make a small batch of pears poached in pinot noir with rosemary and vanilla bean.  The recipe is from The Complete Book of Pickling by Jennifer Mackenzie.  I’m not yet sure how I’m going to use these pears, but I imagine they’ll end up as desserts or gifts. (See below for recipe.)

Dehydrated Pears
My dehydration adventures continue!  Building on my successes dehydrating tomatoes and beets, I decided to move onto pears.  I peeled approximated 4 lbs of pears, but didn’t core them.  Instead I ran them through the food processor on slicing mode to make pear slices which were about 1 cm thick. You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a food processor.  I laid them in a single layer on the trays of the dehydrator, and dehydrated them for 14 hours at 52 C.  The time may vary depending on thickness of slices, ripeness of pears, and outside humidity.  They should be chewy, pliable, and a little brown on the edges when done and similar in texture to dried apple slices.  Because I didn’t core them, they still have seeds; however, I just pick these out before eating.  Store in an air tight container.

Recipe:

Pinot Poached Pears with Rosemary and Vanilla

7 cups water, divided
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 lbs small pears (about 16)
1 sprig rosemary
1 1-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 cups granulated sugar (I will admit that I reduced the sugar by about 1/2 cup, as I found it rather sweet)
1 1/2 cups pinot noir
1/2 white wine vinegar

1. Prepare canner. (See Canning 101 if this is new to you or if you need a refresher.)

2. In a large bowl combine 6 cups of the water and the lemon juice.  Peel pears and cut in half lengthwise. remove core and stem. Add pears to lemon water as they are peeled and cut. (This is to prevent browning.)

3. n a large pot, combine rosemary, vanilla bean, sugar, wine, vinegar and the remaining (1 cup) of water.  Bring to a boil over medium hear, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium and return to a boil.

4. Drain pears, and add them to the pot.  Simmer, gently turning pears occasionally, for 5 to 15 minutes until pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a bowl; cover and keep hot.

5. Increase heat to high and boil liquid (uncovered) for about 10 minutes or until reduced by 1/3 and syrupy.  Reduce heat to low.  Discard rosemary and vanilla bean.

6. Pack hot pears into hot jars. Pour in hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 (1 cm) of headspace. Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rime and place hot lid on jar.  Screw band down until finger-tip tight.

7. Place jars in canner and return to a boil.  Process for 20 minutes.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy pears?

Yours in food,

Marla

PS You’ll notice it’s going to be a little quiet around these parts for the next week or so.  I’m heading to the Food Secure Canada conference in Edmonton.  I should have lots to report back upon my return.

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